I was recently contacted by a recovery website and asked to support their site with a free link on my page. I actually value my recovery, my name, and my site (even if it’s an anonymous one on this blog – in the real world I don’t hide who I am) so I checked out the resource yesterday. Whilst on vacation. Because that’s what I do.
What I found was, let’s call it surprising.
In the modern day fight against all that is Alcoholics Anonymous, call it an unjust stigma, there happens to be a significant amount of misinformation about what it actually is and what it does. There is one significant reason AA is attacked unfairly: Alcoholics Anonymous is free. You can’t sell it, you don’t need a professional to administer it, and the follow-up appointments cost a Dollar (but only if you can afford to donate one for the otherwise free cup of coffee). If you don’t have a spare buck, we just ask that a member keeps coming back until such a time they do. Other than that, each individual member decides if they are a member. We are entirely non-discriminatory and accept everyone, regardless of… well anything. If you’re a human being, we have a meeting for you. If you’re an alien or some other form of animal, well it’s an honest program so keep coming back until such a time as you can be honest or you grow tired of people pointing out that honesty is the best policy.
With the background out of the way, I suggested that a few items would have to be changed if I were to support their page with a link on mine. For instance, it is suggested on their site that AA only has a 5-8% success rate. Let me be very clear about this, because I even hear this stat regurgitated in meetings frequently, if you believe that the success rate is 5-8% you’re either lying or ignorant. The success rate is between 85 and 90% for those who actually follow the program. For those who simply show up to have their court paper signed so they can affect a lighter sentence or ruling, yes the numbers are dismal, but we don’t, can’t and won’t force recovery on anyone. Each person decides their own level of commitment. Let’s look at this another way… By those standards, anyone who shows up at a symposium for a new medical procedure is, by rights, now a doctor. How successful is the medical profession going to be? How about this, anyone who sits through one trial should be considered a lawyer, full license and all. How would that work out? Well, you can’t count anyone who walks into an AA meeting as recovering just the same. The deciding factor is that you actually have to thoroughly work the program to be counted as a success or failure. The Big Book says, “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” Put bluntly, I’ve never seen a person fail…. Not one. I’ve seen thousands fail who have never fully put their feet under the table though.
This supposed “resource” gets worse from there, suggesting that AA is a religious program. The argument could be made that parts of it are “spiritual”, but almost ten percent of the actual “instruction manual” portion of the book is devoted to those who are agnostic about religion (the first 164 pages are the “instruction manual” – what it is and how to work the program, the Chapter We Agnostics is 14 pages long, or “almost ten percent”). When someone suggests that AA is a religious program simply respond with a question: “Oh really? What denomination?” AA is an entirely non-denominational, non-religious program with a spiritual basis. While members can sometimes become confused, claiming “Christianity” as the basis for the program (it is true, AA was formed on Christian values) the aforementioned Chapter to agnostics lays the suggestion that it’s a religious program to waste. Let’s not forget, nearly 90% of the population believes in some form of a Higher Power, but the program is for any human with an alcoholic problem.
There are a few more minor problems that I suggested correcting on the website before I would offer my support, but I’m an immovable object on the two mentioned above… Humorously, I received an email yesterday at around 9:30 am from the “Outreach Specialist” that stated the supposed resource would rather continue peddling ignorance by not correcting their site.
Thus, no link. My friends, know your reality. It’s a crazy place out there. Otherwise, “Smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave”. Or alternately, “let the whirling dervishes whirl”.
You read many of the recovery posts on the blogosphere, even some of the professional stuff, and much of the “evidence based” material (which has been spawned with the sole purpose of Easing God Out), it lacks a most necessary component of recovery: working with another alcoholic….
It’s summer, 1993 and I’m laying in bed, just 23 years-old, less than a year sober, and I think I’m dying. Not figuratively, I believe I’m having a heart attack or something. It’s two o’clock in the morning, I have to be to work at six. I tossed and turned for the rest of the night, never getting another wink of sleep. The next day at work, I was a mess.
I called my sponsor and explained what I’d been through. His first question? “Why didn’t you call me last night?”
I pointed out that it was obviously too early in the morning so there was no chance I was waking him up… And that’s where he set me straight. He explained that I had experienced a full-blown panic attack and that those times are exactly what a sponsor is for, and that someone had done the same for him when he was just a pigeon.
I’ve made countless “I need you, man” phone calls and received plenty, because that’s what we do.
At first, feelings of inadequacy and humility limit our sharing with others as a means of “giving it away” and for all but the most precious of snowflakes this is a good thing. You actually have to possess something worth giving to someone else, after all, for them to accept it.
For those who have read my posts, especially my cycling posts, what is the common thread? Working with, and in the service of, others.
Cycling in a club setting is so much like AA’s brand of recovery, I’m almost nervous to explain exactly how close they are in nature. Every new cyclist to a group leans on that group to ride faster and farther than they could on their own. At first, a noob’s contribution is vastly less that their seasoned countetparts. Over a period of years, though, this changes as the cyclist gets stronger and becomes a fixture in the group. That cyclist does less hiding and more working. They do more so the seasoned members can catch a longer break after having devoted years to pulling that puppy around courses…. That’s the essence of working with others. If we are doing it right, we learn to become less self-centered.
This is an excerpt from the Big Book. Snowflake Trigger Warning! Your fragile self can’t take reading this, so walk away now, before you melt.
Our actor is self-centered-ego-centric, as people like to call it nowadays. He is like the retired business man who lolls in the Florida sunshine in the winter complaining of the sad state of the nation; the minister who sighs over the sins of the twentieth century; politicians and reformers who are sure all would be Utopia
if the rest of the world would only behave; the outlaw safe cracker who thinks society has wronged him; and the alcoholic who has lost all and is locked up. Whatever our protestations, are not most of us concerned with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity?
Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.
So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!
Interesting, isn’t it?