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Post Info TOPIC: Singleness of Purpose
AGO


MIP Old Timer

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Singleness of Purpose
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Why Does AA Insist upon "Singleness of Purpose"?  Why do they insist only alcoholics can become members? (and yes they do, read the long form of Tradition Three, it is stated and restated in AA literature that only Alcoholics can become members over and over again)

Visitors are welcomed at open meetings, but they are just that, visitors

It's So AA doesn't die, THAT"S why Tradition One states:

1.) Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. A.A. must continue to live or most of use will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.

Bill Wilson wrote:

Now there are certain things that AA cannot do for anybody, regardless of what our several desires or sympathies may be.

Our first duty, as a society, is to insure our own survival. Therefore we have to avoid distractions and multi-purpose activity. An AA group, as such, cannot take on all the personal problems of its members, let alone the problems of the whole world.

Sobriety -- freedom from alcohol -- through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of an AA group. Groups have repeatedly tried other activities and they have always failed. It has also been learned that there is no possible way to make non-alcoholics into AA members. We have to confine our membership to alcoholics and we have to confine our AA groups to a single purpose. If we don't stick to these principles, we shall almost surely collapse. And if we collapse, we cannot help anyone.

To illustrate, let's review some typical experiences. Years ago, we hoped to give AA membership to our families and to certain non-alcoholic friends who had been greatly helpful. They had their problems, too, and we wanted them in our fold. Regretfully, we found that this was impossible. They couldn't make straight AA talks; nor, save a few exceptions, could they identify with new AA members. Hence, they couldn't do continuous Twelfth Step work. Close to us as these good folks were, we had to deny them membership. We could only welcome them at our open meetings.

There was a previous organization Called The Washingtonians, When Bill found out how fast they disappeared after how incredibly successful they were early on (300,000 members in a very short period of time), he wrote The Traditions we follow today to insure AA's survival, Here is their story:


In April 1840, nearly a century before Bill W. and Doctor Bob joined together in forming Alcoholics Anonymous, six hard drinkers met at Chase's Tavern in Baltimore to address a common problem the devastating effect the "poisonous draught" was having on their lives, their families, their businesses and their hopes for the future. The solution, they decided, was that by relying on each other, sharing their alcoholic experiences and relying on Divine help, they could keep each other sober.

Total abstinence from alcohol was their goal. Such a great purpose should be reflected in its name, its members felt, and adopted the Washington Temperance Society of Baltimore as the new oranization's name.

Members sought out other "drunkards" (the term "alcoholism" would not be created until 1849, and "alcoholic" was not in general use until Alcoholics Anonymous was formed), told them of their personal experience and how the Society had helped them achieve sobriety.

It was this emphasis on the drunkards that the Washingtonians, as they became known, differed from the temperance movement, which focused on keeping sober individuals from becoming drunks.

The Society's message was spread by what we would call "speaker meetings," whereby a member, indistinguishable from the individuals in his audience save his sobriety, would plainly tell his story what his life had been like before joining the Society and what his life was like now. (Sound familiar?) In this common man, who spoke without the oratory skills of a temperance preacher, drunkards saw themselves as they were and wished to be, and many would sign the Society Pledge at the conclusion of each meeting.

As members spread out to other cities to speak to other men, the organization rapidly grew; at its peak the Washingtonian movement is estimated to have had 300,000 members, and had even been addressed by a 33-year-old Illinois State Legislator named Abraham Lincoln

Less than two decades after its establishment, however, the Washington Temperance Society had all but ceased to exist.


Thus an organization whose purpose and methods closely paralleled those of Alcoholics Anonymous disappeared quickly, while A.A. will celebrate its 74th Anniversary this year.


Why?

First, the Washingtonians lost their focus. While begun with a clear purpose to enable the drunkard to gain and maintain sobriety by the time of its demise the organization had divided into many factions, each with its own agenda: societal temperance, religious conversion, political goals. Rather than a gathering for a single purpose, meetings became battlegrounds of conflicting opinions about everything but alcoholism.

The second error occured when the group opened its membership to non- alcoholics. Its success had depended on its meetings being closed to all but ex-drunkards who shared their personal experiences with other alcoholics. Once non-alcoholics were added to the Society, their boredom with listening to man after man tell his story moved them to speak, and to hold forth about every topic except drinking.

Third, over a period of time the Washingtonian organization lost its spiritual foundation. The introduction of any religion was strictly prohibited, thus the men were denied the benefit of being able to turn to a Higher Power when all their secular resources had been exhausted.

Finally, there existed little of the structure we take for granted the Steps, the Traditions, the slogans, mentoring new members, engaging in service at all levels of the organization. Without this framework on which to build a program of recovery, the Washingtonians were rudderless in a hostile ocean of temptation.

When Doctor Bob and Bill W. formed Alcoholic Anonymous in 1935 they had never heard of the Washingtonians, even though many of the goals and processes of the two organizations were remarkably similar. It was the formation and establishment of A.A.s Twelve Traditions during the period of 1940-1950 that has ensured its longevity.

The lesson we can learn from the demise of the Washingtonians is that A.A. needs to avoid outside, controversial, non-A.A. issues. This singleness of purpose has been established by the Fifth Tradition:

Each group has but one primary purpose to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.


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MIP Old Timer

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Excellent post AGO. This re-inforces my own skepticism about some of the folks you meet in the rooms who take it upon themselves to try and give other members advice about medication (e.g. anti-depressants, anti-psychotics) and tell them that AA requires them to quit taking those. It's expressly there, AA is ONLY about freedom from alcohol.

Steve

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SteveP wrote:

Excellent post AGO. This re-inforces my own skepticism about some of the folks you meet in the rooms who take it upon themselves to try and give other members advice about medication (e.g. anti-depressants, anti-psychotics) and tell them that AA requires them to quit taking those. It's expressly there, AA is ONLY about freedom from alcohol.

Steve




Absolutely

I have seen this with my own eyes, and the results weren't pretty, I almost lost one of my best friends to such well meaning ignorance

Often men and women who have been diagnosed with a dual disorder say that they have received misguided advice about their diagnosis and the use of medication at other Twelve Step meetings. Some have been told that they do not have an emotional or psychiatric illness, and that they are experiencing merely self-pity or some other character defect "You don't need those pills; they'll cause you more problems" and "If you're taking pills, then you're in relapse and not really sober". Individuals who have followed such advice have experienced relapse: some have been hospitalized; some have returned to alcohol or drug use; some have attempted or even completed suicide. To say the least, it can be very confusing. Though we can not speak for other organizations, their literature makes clear that these types of statements are not the official position of A.A., N.A., or any other Twelve Step recovery groups that we are aware of.

On page 133 of the Big Book of A.A. it says in part:

"Now about health: A body badly burned by alcohol does not often recover overnight nor do twisted thinking and depression vanish in a twinkling. We are convinced that a spiritual mode of living is a most powerful health restorative. We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are miracles of mental health. But we have seen remarkable transformations in our bodies. Hardly one of our crowd now shows any dissipation.

But this does not mean that we disregard human health measures. God has abundantly supplied this world with fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds. Do not hesitated to take your health problems to such persons. Most of them give freely of themselves, that their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies. Try to remember that though God has wrought miracles among us, we should never belittle a good doctor or psychiatrist. Their services are often indispensable in treating a newcomer and in following his case afterward."

Reprinted from Alcoholics Anonymous, with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.

There is also an important piece of A.A. conference approved literature called "The A.A. Member - Medications & Other Drugs" that addresses these issues specifically

"...A.A. members and many of their physicians have described situations in which depressed patients have been told by A.A.s to throw away the pills, only to have depression return with all its difficulties, sometimes resulting in suicide. We have heard, too, from schizophrenics, manic depressives, epileptics, and others requiring medication that well-meaning A.A. friends often discourage them from taking prescribed medication, Unfortunately, by following a layman's advice, the sufferers find that their conditions can return with all their previous intensity..."

"It becomes clear that just as it is wrong to enable or support any alcoholic to become readdicted to any drug, it's equally wrong to deprive any alcoholic of medication which can alleviate or control other disabling physical and/or emotional problems."



 



-- Edited by AGO on Monday 26th of April 2010 03:31:28 AM

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Great post, thank you.



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MIP Old Timer

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Thanks AGO, these are very important messages from the fellowship. I believe that you are right, that such advice is for the most part well-meaning (though I suspect that sometimes it's pride by sponsors or advice-givers as well). In extremis, persons giving such advice can be a bit like Tom Cruise giving psychiatric advice to Brooke Shields in interviews on celebrity chat-shows.

There was a person who used to come to one of my meetings who had been told by their recovery centre to stop taking their anti-depressants, as according to their recovery centre "AA was about no-mind altering substances whatsoever", which included ADs. I had the advantage of seeing folks on here talk about exactly this sort of thing and how they dealt with it. As someone said on here, "I wouldn't go to my home group for treatment of a broken leg" (thanks for that one, Biker Bill ;) ) -- I relayed that one and said that if I would talk with my doctor about it if I'd been told that. Not sure if that person got off their pills or what, haven't seen them since. But it worried me to hear people being told that, especially if they were in early sobriety and very impressionable. I'd have thought that the best way to get someone out of the programme and back drinking would be for them to go off their meds and get depressed, psychotic, etc. again.

Steve

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AGO wrote:

Why Does AA Insist upon "Singleness of Purpose"?  Why do they insist only alcoholics can become members? (and yes they do, read the long form of Tradition Three, it is stated and restated in AA literature that only Alcoholics can become members over and over again)


A lttle confict here:

Tradition Three The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.

T
HIS Tradition is packed with meaning. For A.A. is really saying to every serious drinker, You are an A.A. member if you say so. You can declare yourself in; nobody can keepyou out. No matter who you are, no matter how low you've gone, no matter how grave your emotional complicationsven your crimes we still can't deny you A.A. We don't want to keep you out. We aren't a bit afraid you'll harm us, never mind how twisted or violent you may be. We just want to be sure that you get the same great chance for sobriety that we've had. So you're an A.A. member the minute you declare yourself.

-- Edited by Larry_H on Monday 26th of April 2010 10:39:47 AM

-- Edited by Larry_H on Monday 26th of April 2010 10:40:59 AM

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"Singleness of purpose" is a great reassurance for the newcomer who so desperately needs help to get sober but is suspicious of ulterior motives or hidden agendas... simply put, there are none, or SHOULD be none.... the only purpose is to help them acheive sobriety.

Beautiful.

M

-- Edited by itsmichael on Monday 26th of April 2010 12:35:43 PM

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AGO


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Larry_H wrote:

 

AGO wrote:

Why Does AA Insist upon "Singleness of Purpose"?  Why do they insist only alcoholics can become members? (and yes they do, read the long form of Tradition Three, it is stated and restated in AA literature that only Alcoholics can become members over and over again)


A lttle confict here:

Tradition Three The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.

T
HIS Tradition is packed with meaning. For A.A. is really saying to every serious drinker, You are an A.A. member if you say so. You can declare yourself in; nobody can keepyou out. No matter who you are, no matter how low you've gone, no matter how grave your emotional complicationsven your crimes we still can't deny you A.A. We don't want to keep you out. We aren't a bit afraid you'll harm us, never mind how twisted or violent you may be. We just want to be sure that you get the same great chance for sobriety that we've had. So you're an A.A. member the minute you declare yourself.

-- Edited by Larry_H on Monday 26th of April 2010 10:39:47 AM

-- Edited by Larry_H on Monday 26th of April 2010 10:40:59 AM

 



For me, All I can do is abide by the traditions myself, I can't make non members abide by them, I am not The Traditions Police, except when I am duly elected Secretary of a meeting, then part of my job description is to enforce The Traditions and The Group Conscience, such as stopping crosstalk, counter-sharing, shares that go over 5 minutes (if stated in the opening pre-amble) and off topic shares, the sad thing today is many so called members of AA aren't educated about the Traditions and The Concepts, haven't done service work, haven't served as GSR or in H and I, and quite frankly don't even really know what AA is or isn't.

They are not to blame, our old timers, in other words, us, who haven't educated the newcomer is to blame, when newcomers come out of treatment, where they attend group therapy and learn they share their feelings at group level, and since AA looks the same, they continue to do so at meetings aren't to blame, we are to blame for not educating newcomers what AA is and isn't.

AA is simply one alcoholic talking to another.

Period.

I remember when I would watch this guy TK, and his insistence that only alcoholics could become members, and I would wonder why he was so adamant about it, I thought he was so anal.

Over the years I learned it's because he is upholding The Traditions in AA, he is by no means a bleeding deacon, he is an elder statesman passing along the message and lessons that have been learned, Now of course, to me it is a no brainer, any organization called Alcoholics Anonymous of course is an organization of alcoholics, by alcoholics, for alcoholics.

I'm sorry, but that is just how that is, no amount of debate will change that, we can help non alcoholics but the moment we affiliate with them and have them as members we are no longer an AA group, Have any questions? write Central Office and ask them.

I think The Short Form of Tradition Three is the only conflicting message, and that is worded that way to not scare away Newcomers and allow someone who just has a teensy weensy drinking problem an opportunity to get sober.

The entire first 60 pages are dedicated to see if you can "Identify" yourself as an Alcoholic and be restored to Sanity, The first step states

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.

How do you introduce yourself at an AA meeting?

Hi, My name is Andrew, and I am an Alcoholic is what I say

Even in The Twelve and Twelve the opening sentence of Tradition Three is:

A.A. is really saying to every serious drinker, "You are an A.A. member if you say so.

and continues:

Why did we leave it to each newcomer to decide himself whether he was an alcoholicand whether he should join us?

At last experience taught us that to take away any alcoholic's full chance was sometimes to pronounce his death sentence

The Long Form:

3.) Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism
.
Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.

5.) Each Alcoholics Anonymous group ought to be a spiritual entity having but one primary purpose-that of carrying its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

Bill Wrote to The Grapevine:

Sobriety -- freedom from alcohol -- through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of an AA group. Groups have repeatedly tried other activities and they have always failed. It has also been learned that there is no possible way to make non-alcoholics into AA members. We have to confine our membership to alcoholics and we have to confine our AA groups to a single purpose. If we don't stick to these principles, we shall almost surely collapse. And if we collapse, we cannot help anyone.

and:

Therefore I see no way of making non-alcoholic addicts into AA members. Experience says loudly that we can admit no exceptions, even though drug users and alcoholics happen to be first cousins of a sort. If we persist in trying this, I'm afraid it will be hard on the drug user himself, as well as on AA. We must accept the fact that no non-alcoholic, whatever his affliction, can be converted into an alcoholic AA member.

and he goes on:

We cannot give AA membership to non-alcoholic narcotics-addicts. But like anyone else, they should be able to attend certain open AA meetings, provided, of course, that the groups themselves are willing.

AA members who are so inclined should be encouraged to band together in groups to deal with sedative and drug problems. But they ought to refrain from calling themselves AA groups.

There seems to be no reason why several AAs cannot join, if they wish, with a group of straight addicts to solve the alcohol and the drug problem together. But, obviously, such a "dual purpose" group should not insist that it be called an AA group nor should it use the AA name in its title. Neither should its "straight addict" contingent be led to believe that they have become AA members by reason of such an association.

Certainly there is every good reason for interested AAs to join with "outside" groups, working on the narcotic problem, provided the Traditions of anonymity and of "no endorsements" are respected.

In conclusion, I want to say that throughout AA's history, most of our special-purpose groups have accomplished very wonderful things. There is great reason to hope that those AAs who are now working in the grim regions of narcotic addiction will achieve equal success.

In AA, the group has strict limitations, but the individual has scarcely any. Remembering to observe the Traditions of anonymity and non-endorsement, he can carry AA's message into every troubled area of this very troubled world.

Bill W.

So we can carry AA's message to every part of the world, but we can't call it an AA meeting.

 

The Big Book States:

Remember that we deal with alcohol, cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us.

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.

12. 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.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventure before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

OPEN MEETING DEFINITION

This is an open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. We are glad you are all here-especially the newcomers. In keeping with our singleness of purpose and our Third Tradition which states that "The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking, "we ask that all who participate confine their discussion to their problems with alcohol. (The 1987 General Service Conference made this statement available as an A.A. service piece for those groups who wish to use it.)

CLOSED MEETING DEFINITION

This is a closed meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. In support of A.A.'s singleness of purpose, attendance at closed meeting is limited to persons who have a desire to stop drinking. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, you are welcome to attend this meeting. We ask that when discussing our problems, we confine ourselves to those problems as they relate to alcoholism. (The 1987 General Service Conference Made this statement available as an A.A. service piece for those groups who wish to use it.)

 

The Big Book uses the word "Alcoholic" 93 times in the first 164 pages, and alcoholism 46 times, and our fellowship, book, AND program are all even called "Alcoholics Anonymous"

Alcoholic

Alcoholism

1944 A.A. Sponsorship Pamphlet
by Clarence Snyder

This is the first pamphlet ever written concerning sponsorship. It was written by Clarence H. Snyder in early 1944. Its original title was to be "A.A. Sponsorship...Its Obligations and Its Responsibilities." It was printed by the Cleveland Central Committee under the title:

"A.A. Sponsorship . . . Its Opportunities and Its Responsibilities."

PREFACE

Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is a potential sponsor of a new member and should clearly recognize the obligations and duties of such responsibility.

The acceptance of an opportunity to take the A.A. plan to a sufferer of alcoholism entails very real and critically important responsibilities. Each member, undertaking the sponsorship of a fellow alcoholic, must remember that he is offering what is frequently the last chance of rehabilitation, sanity or maybe life itself.

Happiness, Health, Security, Sanity and Life of human beings are the things we hold in balance when we sponsor an alcoholic.

No member among us is wise enough to develop a sponsorship program that can be successfully applied in every case. In the following pages, however, we have outlined a suggested procedure, which supplemented by the member's own experience, has proven successful.

PERSONAL GAINS OF BEING A SPONSOR

No one reaps full benefit from any fellowship he is connected with unless he wholeheartedly engages in its important activities. The expansion of Alcoholics Anonymous to wider fields of greater benefit to more people results directly from the addition of new, worth-while members or associates.

Any A.A. who has not experienced the joys and satisfaction of helping another alcoholic regain his place in life has not yet fully realized the complete benefits of this fellowship. On the other hand, it must be clearly kept in mind that the only possible reason for bringing an alcoholic into A.A. is for that person's gain. Sponsorship should never be undertaken to -

1. Increase the size of the group.
2. For personal satisfaction and glory.
3. Because the sponsor feels it his duty to re-make the world.

Until an individual has assumed the responsibility of setting a shaking, helpless human being back on the path toward becoming a healthy useful, happy member of society, he has not enjoyed the complete thrill of being an A.A.

SOURCE OF NAMES

Most people have among their own friends and acquaintances someone who would benefit from our teachings. Others have names given to them by their church, by their doctor, by their employer, or by some other member, who cannot make a direct contact.

Because of the wide range of the A.A. activities, the names often come from unusual and unexpected places. These cases should be contacted as soon as all facts such as: marital status, domestic relations, financial status, drink habits, employment status and others readily obtainable are at hand.

IS THE PROSPECT A CANDIDATE?

Much time and effort can be saved by learning as soon as possible if -

1. The man* really has a drinking problem?
2. Does he know he has a problem?
3. Does he want to do something about his drinking?
4. Does he want help?

*The masculine form is used throughout for simplicity, although it is intended to include women as well.

Sometimes the answers to these questions cannot be made until the prospect has had some A.A. instruction, and an opportunity to think. Often we are given names, which upon investigation, show the prospect is in no sense an alcoholic, or is satisfied with his present plan of living. We should not hesitate to drop these names from our lists. Be sure, however, to let the man know where he can reach us at a later date.

WHO SHOULD BECOME MEMBERS?

A.A. is a fellowship of men and women bound together by their inability to use alcohol in any form sensibly, or with profit or pleasure. Obviously, any new members introduced should be the same kind of people, suffering from the same disease.

Most people can drink reasonably, but we are only interested in those who cannot. Party drinkers, social drinkers, celebrators, and others who continue to have more pleasure than pain from their drinking, are of no interest to us.

In some instances an individual might believe himself to be a social drinker when he definitely is an alcoholic. In many such cases more time must pass before that person is ready to accept our program. Rushing such a man before he is ready might ruin his chances of ever becoming a successful A.A.. Do not ever deny future help by pushing too hard in the beginning.

Some people, although definitely alcoholic, have no desire or ambition to better their way of living, and until they do........ A.A. has nothing to offer them.

Experience has shown that age, intelligence, education, background, or the amount of liquor drunk, has little, if any, bearing on whether or not the person is an alcoholic.

PRESENTING THE PLAN

In many cases a man's physical condition is such that he should be placed in a hospital, if at all possible. Many A.A. members believe hospitalization, with ample time for the prospect to think and plan his future, free from domestic and business worries, offers distinct advantage. In many cases the hospitalization period marks the beginning of a new life. Other members are equally confident that any man who desires to learn the A.A. plan for living can do it in his own home or while engaged in normal occupation. Thousands of cases are treated in each manner and have proved satisfactory.

SUGGESTED STEPS*

The following paragraphs outline a suggested procedure for presenting the A.A. plan to the prospect, at home or in the hospital.

QUALIFY AS AN ALCOHOLIC*

1. In calling upon a new prospect, it has been found best to qualify oneself as an ordinary person who has found happiness, contentment, and peace of mind through A.A. Immediately make it clear to the prospect that you are a person engaged in the routine business of earning a living. Tell him your only reason for believing yourself able to help him is because you yourself are an alcoholic and have had experiences and problems that might be similar to his.

TELL YOUR STORY*

2. Many members have found it desirable to launch immediately into their personal drinking story, as a means of getting the confidence and whole-hearted co-operation of the prospect.

It is important in telling the story of your drinking life to tell it in a manner that will describe an alcoholic, rather than a series of humorous drunken parties. This will enable the man to get a clear picture of an alcoholic which should help him to more definitely decide whether he is an alcoholic.

INSPIRE CONFIDENCE IN A.A.*

3. In many instances the prospect will have tried various means of controlling his drinking, including hobbies, church, changes of residence, change of associations, and various control plans. These will, of course, have been unsuccessful. Point out your series of unsuccessful efforts to control drinking...their absolute fruitless results and yet that you were able to stop drinking through application of A.A. principles. This will encourage the prospect to look forward with confidence to sobriety in A.A. in spite of the many past failures he might have had with other plans.

TALK ABOUT "PLUS" VALUES*

4. Tell the prospect frankly that he can not quickly understand all the benefits that are coming to him through A.A.. Tell him of the happiness, peace of mind, health, and in many cases, material benefits which are possible through understanding and application of the A.A. way of life.

SHOW IMPORTANCE OF READING BOOK*

5. Explain the necessity of reading and re-reading the A.A. book. Point out that this book gives a detailed description of the A.A. tools and the suggested methods of application of these tools to build a foundation of rehabilitation for living. This is a good time to emphasize the importance of the twelve steps and the four absolutes.

QUALITIES REQUIRED FOR SUCCESS IN A.A.*

6. Convey to the prospect that the objectives of A.A. are to provide the ways and means for an alcoholic to regain his normal place in life. Desire, patience, faith, study and application are most important in determining each individual's plan of action in gaining full benefits of A.A.

INTRODUCE FAITH*

7. Since the belief of a Power greater than oneself is the heart of the A.A. plan, and since this idea is very often difficult for a new man, the sponsor should attempt to introduce the beginnings of an understanding of this all-important feature.

Frequently this can be done by the sponsor relating his own difficulty in grasping a spiritual understanding and the methods he used to overcome his difficulties.

LISTEN TO HIS STORY*

8. While talking to the newcomer, take time to listen and study his reactions in order that you can present your information in a more effective manner. Let him talk too. Remember...Easy Does It. TAKE TO SEVERAL MEETINGS* 9. To give the new member a broad and complete picture of A.A., the sponsor should take him to various meetings within convenient distance of his home. Attending several meetings gives a new man a chance to select a group in which he will be most happy and comfortable, and it is extremely important to let the prospect make his own decision as to which group he will join. Impress upon him that he is always welcome at any meeting and can change his home group if he so wishes.

EXPLAIN A.A. TO PROSPECT'S FAMILY*

10. A successful sponsor takes pains and makes any required effort to make certain that those people closest and with the greatest interest in their prospect (mother, father, wife, etc.) are fully informed of A.A., its principles and its objectives. The sponsor sees that these people are invited to meetings, and keeps them in touch with the current situation regarding the prospect at all times.

HELP PROSPECT ANTICIPATE HOSPITAL EXPERIENCE*

11. A prospect will gain more benefit from a hospitalization period if the sponsor describes the experience and helps him anticipate it, paving the way for those members who will call on him.

CONSULT OLDER MEMBERS IN A.A.*

These suggestions for sponsoring a new man in A.A. teachings are by no means complete. They are intended only for a framework and general guide. Each individual case is different and should be treated as such. Additional information for sponsoring a new man can be obtained from the experience of older men in the work. A co-sponsor, with an experienced and newer member working on a prospect, has proven very satisfactory. Before undertaking the responsibility of sponsoring, a member should make certain that he is able and prepared to give the time, effort, and thought such an obligation entails. It might be that he will want to select a co-sponsor to share the responsibility, or he might feel it necessary to ask another to assume the responsibility for the man he has located.

IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE A SPONSOR...BE A GOOD ONE!



Singleness of Purpose

From Box 459, published bimonthly the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous, Februaru/March 2003

by George E. Valiant, M. D. Class A (nonalcoholic) trustee A.A. General Service Board

"Singleness of purpose" is essential to the effective treatment of alcoholism. The reason for such exaggerated focus is to overcome denial. The denial associated with alcoholism is cunning, baffling, and powerful and affects the patient, helper, and the community. Unless alcoholism is kept relentlessly in the foreground, other issues will usurp everybody's attention.

Mental health workers, however, have great difficulty with A.A.'s Fifth Tradition: "Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers." Since mental health workers often admire the success and geographic availability of Alcoholics Anonymous, they understandably wish to broaden its membership to include other substance abusers. They also note that pure alcohol abuse is becoming less frequent, and polydrug abuse more common. In addition, mental health workers sometimes view singleness of purpose as outmoded and exclusionary. They worry that the Tradition is a holdover from the early days of A.A. and that the young, the poor and the minority with a criminal record will be barred. Besides, when there is no professional drug treatment center or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) group easily available, mental health workers find it hard to understand why A.A., with its tradition of Twelfth Step work, won't step in and fill the breach.

As both a mental health worker and a researcher, it seems to me that there are two arguments that trump these concerns. First, the Third Tradition of A.A., "The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking," renders A.A. nonexclusionary. Each year A.A. welcomes many thousands of minorities, many thousands of poor, many thousands of alcoholics with coexistent drug problems and tens of thousands of convicts into its membership. Nobody with a desire to stop drinking is excluded.

The second argument, that "Singleness of Purpose" is necessary to overcome denial, is even more compelling. Given a choice, nobody wants to talk about alcoholism. In contrast, drug addiction commands newspaper headlines, research funding and the attention of clinical audiences. After two years of work at the Lexington, Kentucky Federal Narcotics Treatment Center, I, a mere assistant professor, was invited around the world to lecture on heroin addiction. In the late 1990s, as a full professor and after 25 years of research on alcoholism and its enormous morbidity, I was finally asked to give a medical grand rounds on alcohol in my home city. My assigned topic, "Why alcohol is good for your health." In short, the greatest single obstacle to the proper treatment of alcoholism is denial.

I first began my psychiatric career at a deeply dedicated community health center. The community had voted alcohol abuse as their biggest problem. After its first ten years of operation the center was still conforming itself to addressing the community's most pressing second, third, and fourth problems. No resources at all were devoted to alcohol treatment.

I moved to another community mental health center that had listened to its citizens and had opened an alcohol treatment center. In being asked to fill the position of co-director of the clinic I was the last staff psychiatrist hired by the mental health center. Significantly, I had had no experience with alcoholism, but no one else wanted the job.

Put differently, the experimentally documented success of A.A. in the treatment of alcoholism is in part because A.A. groups are the only place in the world where the focus is on alcoholism and nothing but alcoholism. There is simply no other way to overcome the denial.

 




-- Edited by AGO on Monday 26th of April 2010 01:06:07 PM

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One term you will not find in the Big Book is "Closed Meeting"

Larry,
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Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own.  You may both be wrong.  ~Dandemis

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Larry_H wrote:

One term you will not find in the Big Book is "Closed Meeting"

Larry,
-----------------
Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own.  You may both be wrong.  ~Dandemis




That is true, Instead, in a "Vision For You" it describes them:

 

A year and six months later these three had succeeded with seven more. Seeing much of each other, scarce an evening passed that someone's home did not shelter a little gathering of men and women, happy in their release, and constantly thinking how they might present their discovery to some newcomer. In addition to these casual get-togethers, it became customary to set apart one night a week for a meeting to be attended by anyone or everyone interested in a spiritual way of life. Aside from fellowship and sociability, the prime object was to provide a time and place where new people might bring their problems.

 

So six nights a week they basically attended "closed meetings" and one night a week they set aside a day to have an "Open" meeting so newcomers and outsiders could find them and see what "they" (members of Alcoholics Anonymous) had to offer

 

Open meeting = a meeting to be attended by anyone or everyone interested in a spiritual way of life.Aside from fellowship and sociability, the prime object was to provide a time and place where new people might bring their problems

 

So newcomers and outsiders were welcome and embraced, but by no means were they "members" of AA

 

To become a "member", there were certain requirements:

Dr. Bob visited daily. And he would explain the disease or illness, as it was then understood. The newcomer had to identify as an alcoholic, admit that he too was licked, and declare that he would do whatever it took to recover.

I have never maintained that all aren't welcome at open meetings, because they are, the only thing I am saying is the literature clearly states over and over and over only alcoholics can be members of Alcoholics Anonymous

I can attend services at The Catholic Church until I am blue in the face, but until I take the action necessary to become a Catholic, I am, simply out, not a member of The Catholic Church no matter what I say.

It's simple to become a member of AA:

Have a serious drinking problem

Have an honest desire to get sober

Declare yourself a member


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EDIT: Im glad AA is for alcolohlism and not for  other addictions or other 12 step programs. (i go to a few different fellowships i sometimes think it would be nice to not have to go to so many different meetings but i am glad there is singleness of purpose).  I am grateful when i first came in the rooms i heard about drinking cause it was easy to indentify with the problem i was needing help with. I mean many people have a lot of different things to deal with which i think is OK to share about cause thats life, we have to share about whats going on and our stories. But i have found it hard to relate if someone shares soley about other things and nothing about alcolholism.

Ive tried to rewrite this over and over actually i am not too sure what i am saying!

Ive been to a very few meetings where some sharing has been soley on other addictions and i really found that hard to relate to and i actually felt really uncomfortable. Im not sure if that is excatly a good reaction. I guess i like how i know i can go to an AA meeting and i know that im going to hear about my problem im there for, and if i dont get that then i feel wierded out.
I dont know if i would have indentified enough to stick around when i first came in if i had not heard about alcolohism so much but other things as i think at that time I really needed to easily indentify and to hear my story from other peoples mouths. Cause that is powerful its what made me see that i really did belong in the rooms.

-- Edited by slugcat on Monday 26th of April 2010 06:10:31 PM

-- Edited by slugcat on Monday 26th of April 2010 06:11:58 PM

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"It's simple to become a member of AA:

Have a serious drinking problem

Have an honest desire to get sober

Declare yourself a member"


I dont know, when i first came in the rooms people let me share but for the first few weeks probably i could not admit i was an alcolhlic, i didnt even know for sure that i was one. Perhaps they should have not allowed me to share, maybe i was disrupting the meeting i dont know. but me going to the meetings helped. i think being able to share helped, cause i got to say how confused and messed up i was and how i wasnt sure if i was really an alki but i did think i had a problem with drinking, i just wasnt sure to what extent, or even if i really wanted to get and stay sober. i mean really i would have prefered it if i had been taught how to drink socially lol. I am now glad and grateful to be sober but i think at the start i wouldve prefered to be able to drink
'normally'

thanks for giving me something to think about. Sorry for rambling i am really thinking out loud i guess ashamed

-- Edited by slugcat on Monday 26th of April 2010 06:19:40 PM

-- Edited by slugcat on Monday 26th of April 2010 06:20:14 PM

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I am glad that this thread got you thinking SC

I think they purposefully left that loophole there, you have to be an alcoholic to be a member but you don't have to admit you are an alcoholic lol

Hence

A.A. is really saying to every serious drinker, You are an A.A. member if you say so.

and

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking

I don't they ever thought in their wildest dreams non alcoholics and the treatment industry would use that as a loophole to try and become AA members, where in treatment newcomer addicts are frequently advised to go to AA and Lie and say they are alcoholic because the recovery is so strong in AA.

I have personally met hundreds and hundreds of people who were advised this in treatment

The funny thing is by these actions they are eroding the very foundation that makes AA effective, which is singleness of purpose

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