Done with Alcoholics Anonymous

I have other articles at this website defending why and how Alcoholics Anonymous is a personal program. I have defended and stood up for the principles the program teaches us. I have been an open and compassionate person to those other websites and people who are leary, critical, or suspicious of A.A. I could always understand why people had turned sour of A.A., or would call it a cult. I could have empathy and feel sorrow for their anger and bitterness. In fact, I have always loathed those traits of some members in A.A. who judged people for that. “If God chases you out, alcohol will chase your ass back in.”

Whoever says that? Fuck them! They’re talking to be clever.

Unfortunately, due to some A.A. members and their callous remarks, alcohol never had a chance to bring those “asses” they speak of, back in. They thought a better resolution would be suicide. I could see why they’d feel that way… We often hear that A.A.’s the last stop on the block for us and we give it our all. We believe it’s the last stop for us cause that’s what everyone said right? So when the sickest groups of A.A. no longer can function in a healthy degree, I can see how some people would then assume it’s their insanity…and then go back to drinking, drugs, both, and/or eventual suicide.

Example taken from the Annals of Early Recovery: I’d been sober for about 6 months. It’d been the longest I’d not have had a drink in 7 years or so. I was stone cold sober and without any chemicals at all – except still sugar, caffeine and nicotine, and some of my ADD, HSP, and EBV thrown in for extra fun and giggles along the way…A friend was picking me up for a meeting when I forgot to check the mail. “Oh wait. I think I forg…” She says: “Who said you could think?” WTF? I called up my sponsor later and tested her recovery: “Am I allowed to think?” Naturally she said yes. I would later learn that this friend of mine took narcotics habitually. So much for “A.A. Time” and “Sobriety.”

Lesson: If something someone says or implies doesn’t feel right, trust yourself. Read the Voice of Knowledge, understand Codependency, and understand that even anger comes from your integrity. A.A. literature may say that anger is the “dubious luxury of normal men” but I couldn’t disgaree more. Anger is not a luxury. It’s a feeling and normal people have them. Anger initiates action. Done with drinking, we can now hopefully put that action into right action as opposed to internalized [self] or externalized [others] hate.

Depravity from One Person to the Group Level

Other clues that I may be dealing with A.A. people under the influence of narcotics or illicit drug use, still drinking, acting from ego, a cult-like mentality, or from their own opinions rather than A.A. guided principles or an otherwise spiritual foundation, is that it will be in opposition to the Twelve Traditions. One person opposing them okay. Even a few is still manageable because we hope that people who have been there and have an understanding of the Traditions would be there to guide them back. But when most people in a group are not observing the very bedrock that A.A. itself claims as How the Group Functions, then it ceases being an A.A. Group – I don’t care what it calls itself.

The Last Hope for Others Not yet Burned Harmed or Disillusioned

For people still in Alcoholics Anonymous I want to share something with you that can hopefully save you or your group from the pestilence of disease, untruths, misconceptions, and rot that has killed my former group. As much as it pains me to say this, one person cannot change a group for the better always. The majority has to first see it. And then, the majority [like they stress to the individual in A.A.] has to be willing to go to any length to get it. My group was not. As a result, I had to leave before it brought me further down. I say further, because I still have the aftertaste of anger and intense hostility toward many people there and against the group as an entity. [I do not have hostility against A.A. the program; the 12 Steps, the Principles, the institution, or the Traditions in any way. I have hostility that people’s lives are ending, relapses are happening, and my personal recovery has had to change shape due to where I got sober being the sickest stop on the block.]

The Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.

2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority- a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

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

4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.

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

6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.

12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

The Twelve Traditions – taken as a whole – is the bedrock for the successful recovery of an individual while in the Group. The Traditions is what makes it manageable that a room of even mostly new alcoholics in recovery can still recover. At the personal level, I can have a really rough day and be mad at the world…but if I go into a meeting and abide these Traditions I can be assured that from my mouth and actions I will not contribute to another person’s decent into sickness and may even help them. And they me.

In short, if these Traditions aren’t observed it’s no longer an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting – it’s a hang out.

Good Luck.

As for me, I continue to enlarge my spiritual life and associate with others who do the same. This is how I will stay sober. And this is the foundation of the program.

19 thoughts on “Done with Alcoholics Anonymous

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  2. isabella mori March 19, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    what a great post. you are so right. 12-step programs are great IF they observe the traditions and the generous, tolerant, loving and utterly democratic spirit that sustains it. it’s really tragic that the ones that don’t observe the traditions and the principles can turn from a life raft into a sinking boat.

  3. Gene December 11, 2007 at 12:23 am

    the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities

    Not everyone in AA is sober, not all drunks are in AA we have to place our trust in a higher power.

  4. derral August 6, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    hey, samsara, I believe that all the “disruptive” people in meetings are an example also, a bad one. I’m in my 18th year in recovery, and finding it difficult to sit through, or even go to a meeting. absolutes, i hear them constantly, and that leaves no room for “grey areas”. AA saved my life, what a divinely inspired gift. perhaps some of us have grown past it, and can “give back” in others places. cool. I’m burn’t also. bless your heart samsara, for reaching out. is it healthy for the newcomer to hear or read your opinions (i agree with them), will it send them to meetings being judgemental, defensive? or will it encourage them to get active and change it? i believe the meetings are Gods, not ours, and truly you said, if God ain’t there, the meeting will fold. to me , aa guides us on a jouney to the spirit, it’s simply supposed to be about GOD!!!!!!!!!! you’ve enforced some of my thoughts, given me insight, bless you. keep rocking the boat girl, but KINDLY. THANKS

  5. Gail Robey August 22, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Hi Samsara, I too have been sober for many years, haven’t been to an AA meeting in probably ten years or so. I go to other 12 step recovery meetings where there is a little more acceptance, a little more humility. I love the 12 steps and traditions but it’s true, I see a lot of “tough love” used as the first resort instead of the last, which I don’t agree with. I am sad that there are so many shitty meetings out there. My husband is a fellow recovering alkie and he gets pissed that I don’t go to AA any more, but he is also a big asshole most of the time and I am trying to figure a way out of the relationship. I see myself being a victim, this is a big learning experience for me at this tiime. This is a great site, I have been reading a lot of the archived articles and really enjoying them. I am also codependent, compulsive eater, spender, you name it….but a work in progress. Thanks. Gail

  6. samsara September 9, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Gail – Holy cow peas! This was said brilliantly and so honestly, do you mind if I reprint?

    “My husband is a fellow recovering alkie and he gets pissed that I don’t go to AA any more, but he is also a big asshole most of the time and I am trying to figure a way out of the relationship. I see myself being a victim,”

    Oh Gail! My hats off to you no doubt about that. You know precisely where you want to go as you honestly take inventory and try to figure it is how you’re supposed to get there. You then go on to HONESTLY throw out that YES, you are seeing yourself as a victim! AWESOME!

    Listen. I believe 100% we have to acknowledge our victim status before we can rise above it. There is a reason you’re a *victim* right now. What tool or tools haven’t you learned yet? Are you scared of something? Is your EGO trying to keep you there – in bondage? Or hell…how about your alcoholism or codependency…are they whispering that he not “make it” without you or for all his faults at least he loves you? Or is it the common one? You have no money and/or you cannot support yourself? [Honey, that is what alimony is for. :)]

    Tsk. Tsk. Damn it! I see a wonderful woman…indeed, a miraculous work in progress and I sense her suffocation. But yet I also see a beam of bright white light coming through. That bright white light, Gail, is all you need.

    Trust God. Clean House. Work with others [Reach out].

    I DO believe all the rest works in time.

    PS. After getting sober I DID figure a way out of my relationship. It was painful as hell and no easy button. [Back when the Staple’s “Easy Button” was popular on the commercials?] There was only one “easier, softer way” and that was through it and sober. Agggh. The pain. But that was me. And MINE wasn’t an asshole. But I made it. My partner, too, did the same thing. He didn’t feel as pained as I did…but she did it. [And she, too, was not an asshole.]

    I guess what I am saying is that it could be worse. Your husband could be a kind man. =)

    I’m going to pray that you gain the wisdom and courage you need to continue evolving to the place you want to be Gail. Would you do the same for me?


  7. Lynette September 11, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Gail Robey, if this is the Gail that I used to live with when our mothers were friends in Costa Mesa, it is good to say hello. Sober is good.

  8. samsara September 11, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    Derral – I am so sorry I completely missed you! So sorry! Thank you for your kind thoughts and words. :) I appreciate them very much.

    Do not think it is lost on me that a newcomer to A.A. may show up here. :) It is my sincere hope that they can see *past* the egos and the sick people and/or even the sick meetings and discover that A.A. *is* the divinely inspired gift of which we are all responsible.

    That, perhaps, if a meeting is “sick” and the newcomer has not yet developed her voice, that perhaps she will continue driving or seeking until she DOES find that one meeting or that one person who will help change her life. You know? That one person or one meeting who will click those gears and begin her process to everlasting sobriety and spiritual sustenance and growth which = happiness.

    I want – particularly – for the people [who were or are as sick as I used to be] to NOT give UP. That there IS a miracle to be had in A.A. even if the miracles was *not* at yesterday’s meeting at 5:30 for example.

    I want the newcomer to appreciate and understand that no, not all people are truly tristing God, cleaning house, or helping others and that yes, some people are there for less than honorable reasons….that THIS is when she MUST rely on her intuitive voice to separate the wheat from the chaffe; as mine did for me when it turns out I managed to get sober despite having a homegroup where [I would say] had 50 people a meeting and 85% of them taking pharmaceuticals or on the pot maintenance program.

    If God could help me navigate THAT and yet help me get my sponsor and manage to get me to MOSTLY healthy meetings – in which Traditions went observed…If I could get and stay sober under those conditions in tandem with a spouse who despised A.A. for doing what he could not…Then I NEED to stress that anyone can do it.

    This is what I hope to share ultimately and thank you so much Derral for blessing this article with your bright spirit Derral – your spirit is so bright it is simply RADIANT and generous!! I LOVE that. You must be HSP also!!

    I look forward to seeing more of your comments and when I finally move everything over to I TRULY hope to be able to keep up with your comments more easily. [This version of my platform is old and clunky and I need an upgrade anyway!]

    Lynette – A.A. brings people together doesn’t it? Wow. Wouldn’t that be something? I hope she subscribed to comments and can read your post so she can answer! :-)

  9. Rainbo February 3, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Great posts, here. Samsara nailed it by pointing out how pulling away, or forgetting the 12 traditions makes it something…ELSE. Way to speak the truth, girl! I am in recovery and go to a 12-step group for co-dependency, and can totally relate to seeing one’s self as a victim. I can be REALLY good at victim, but working through the 12-steps (with my higher power) helps me “ground” myself, and get REAL again. ANYTHING can be exploited or abused, but people committed to living authentic, integrous lives are the ones who, by example, and by not being victims, hold up and maintain a standard by which a recovery program, like A.A., may continue to function and thrive.

  10. Chipper April 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Recently, I came to my own understanding of the “Dubious luxury” of anger. My understanding is that not that “anger” is “bad”. It’s not and as natural as breathing. However, what I do with my “anger” is what is important. If I use my anger to hurt someone, or full my hate and resentments, then, yes, I’m done for. However, if I sit with it, and understand it, identify what I’m really anger about, and then take a non hateful course of action, then I have done the right thing. When I first came back to the rooms I was nothing but seething hate and anger. The 12 steps, meetings and God have freed me from that overwhelming anger and madness. Sure, I still feel anger at times, but it’s slower, and more often then not, I can make the right choice.

  11. samsara April 15, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Thanks Rainbo and Chipper.

    Rainbo – Hallelujah! You recieved my points well and I appreciate that. It took a while for me to understand precisely how to identify *why* some groups and/or meetings were not good for my recovery…so it was with so much gratitude that I was able to see it’s because we have the Traditions for a reason! So yes, namaste, for allowing me to see through your eyes that apparently I made the points cogent.

    Chipper – Thank you so much for bringing up that anger is just an emotion. But, like any other emotion it *can* rule our existence…”become” us so to speak. I love that you used the phrase “to sit with it.” Sometimes it helps me to write it all out – line by line if necessary. often I can find an identifying theme or even a root. And when I find that root, I look to the 12 steps to get back to my solution…Almost like a 4th step but if I’m in whirling derbish mode, yeah just freestyle writing or line by line of every seemingly nonsensical thing can often lead me to truth. Thank God for sobriety today…. I am so grateful for the tools of the 12 steps and how ANY area of my life can be solved by applying them.

    Thank you both for sharing here and with me your experience, strength and hope.

    Good things!

  12. Ed August 23, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    I’ve met many in AA who are callous, pompous, controlling, etc. I realized early on that there are sober assholes, that they’ve no humility and no desire to progress spiritually. Where I got sober, they had a saying. “What do you get when you sober up a drunken horse-thief: a sober horse-thief.” However, getting your feelings hurt is part of growing up. Doing what right for you does take guts. My hardest lesson was learning to stand up for myself.

    No one made me repeatedly go to a group I didn’t what to go to. At other other groups I liked, I learned to tune out certain people. In fact, a friend of mine and I would step out for a break whenever certain people shared. To expect a group of people who managed to totally screw up their lives to behave properly all of a sudden is unrealistic. I eventually learned to base my expectations upon reality instead of how I wanted the world to be.

    Turning your back on any fellowship is short-sighted and serves only to sell yourself short. I too became suicidal after I got sober. I sought help outside the rooms of AA. AA doesn’t claim to have the answer to everything. It did teach me to go to doctors when I had a medical problem. It also taught me how to learn how to have relationships. It also taught me a lot about relationship dynamics. It taught me I’m a really nice, loving guy. It also taught me I’m an asshole. By accepting all parts of me, I’ve become better able to accept all parts of other people.

    A lot of people talk the talk but fail to walk the walk. In my 23 years of sobriety, I see more good in AA than bad. I know some truly exceptional people who I strive to emulate. I’ve also learned the most valuable lesson; don’t take myself too seriously. Actually, that’s the second most important lesson. The real most important lesson is that I have several people up in my head, and they are not all my friends.

  13. Lynette August 23, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Well it was you Gail, and it was great to find you and we were able to talk for a couple of times for a couple of hours.
    I am writing this to let you all know that Gail has passed. I miss her and wish we could have spent some time together in our older years as Gail and I spent much time together growing up, lived together as sisters for awhile and even went to high school together.
    You are missed by family I am sure and many friends. we all miss you.

  14. Samudra October 4, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    I don�t usually reply to posts but I will in this case. WoW :)

  15. Cliff November 18, 2010 at 11:32 am

    I know of the great disillusionment….for one the answer cannot come from a group exclusively that is focusing on avoiding something. That in it of itself gives it more power than it’s worth. Now under the spell of alcoholism and all it’s manifest fears, AA is a great thing. However, individually it falls short in the arena of spiritual expansion. Expansion in it of itself may be an illusion. The answer has already been known is known now and will always be there when all the other mind illusions have run their course. Seems a long way off huh? Sometimes it may seem so, but you know and I know that time and space do not really exist at all, however God did not make a mistake when His Son decided to expand creation on the physical planes of existence. And here is where all error occurs. So, therefore, except this errant world as it is and be joyful, and I will do what I can to do likewise. The message is still the same. “Be happy NOW.



    A brother

  16. Vernita Destine November 23, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Hey there. I just want to give you a brief note to verbalize my thankfulness. I have been reading your web site for few days and have picked up a heap of excellent info and enjoyed the way you’ve structured your website. I am going to make my web site however I think it’s too general and I would like to concentrate more on specific subjects.

  17. Ed June 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    I just celebrated 25 years of abstinence from alcohol or any alcohol substitute. The biggest factor in this has been the love and acceptance of some special people in AA. The second factor has been practicing the spiritual principles in all of my affairs.

    During my drinking, I isolated and withdrew from everybody around me. AA helped me to reintergrate into society. It also taught me compassion and some humilty. I also have the advantage of living in a large metropolitan area where there are literally hundreds of meetings a week and I have found a group where the people are open minded and welcoming.

    I know that some groups are sick and that finding a meeting that practices love and acceptance can be challenging, and for me, staying in AA was only possible because I found loving and supportive people.

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