We are no longer showing the newcomer that we have a solution for alcoholism. We are not telling them about the Big Book and how very important that Book is to our long term sobriety. The book blatantly tells us: “to show other alcohol ics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book”, the main purpose! I have lost count how many times I have heard the book misquoted, and it’s usually to newcomers.
What the hell are we telling our newcomers? Its no wonder the success rate has decreased from around 75% in the early days to less than 5% today.. AA meetings are not self help groups (No human power can relieve us of our alcoholism, but God could and would if He were sought) the book tells us. I don’t want to know what a bad day you have had (that isn’t going to help me). But time and time again we are using our meeting time for drunken war stories, a discussion of our problems, ideas and opinions.
We are killing people with our opinios; we have to be very careful what we say. If we are going to carry this message, it’s vital we carry the correct one.
The meetings evolved from a program of Spiritual Development to the group therapy type of meeting where we heard more and more about “our problems” and less and less about the Program of Recovery by the Big Book and the preservation of our Fellowship by adhering to our Traditions.
What has been the result of all this? Well, never have we had so many coming to us for help. But never have we had such a slow growth rate which has now started to decline. For the first time in our history, Alcoholics Anonymous is losing members faster than they are coming in and our success rate is unbelievably low.
The change in the content of our meetings is proving to be death-traps for the newcomer and in turn, death-traps for the groups that depend on the “discussion or participation” type meetings.
Why is this? The answer is very simple. When meetings were opened so that untreated alcoholics & non-alcoholics were given the opportunity to express their ideas, their opinions, air their problems and tell how they were told to do it where they came from, the confused newcomer became more confused with the diversity of information that was being presented.
More and more they were encouraged to “just go to meetings and don’t drink” or worse yet, “go to 90 meetings in 90 days”. The newcomer no longer was told to take the Steps or get back out there and finish the job. In fact, they are often told, “Don’t rush into taking the Steps. Take your time.” The alcoholics who participated in the writing of the Big Book didn’t wait. They took the Steps in the first few days following their last drink
To the contrary, the old timers failed in their responsibility to the newcomer to remind them of a vital truth, “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program.” We have permitted untreated alcoholics and non-alcoholics to sit in our meetings and lay out their problems, ideas and opinions. We have gone from, “Rarely have we seen a person fail” to “Seldom do we see a person recover”.
The book tells us He will show you how to create the fellowship you crave, and I have to admit I am craving the Fellowship that we once had. I say this for the benefit of the future AA memebers yet to come. We have a program that has the power to pull chronic alcoholics back from the gates of death, lets please use it the way they wanted us to pass it on, straight from the first 164 pages of the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous 1939
I say all the above from experience travelling around the world speaking at thousands of Fellowship venues, and it saddens me when I watch groups destroying our Fellowship. So I ask you one final time, What does the book say?