Disruptive attendee

Topics related to AA Meetings - and alcohol addiction recovery
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Disruptive attendee

Postby rodc » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:43 am

My sobiety date is 08/17/1975. As a result, I may be considered an "Old Timer" and have been approached by members of a Sunday meeting group over an attendee who waits to be last and delivers both verbally critical and profane sharing. The meeting is at a recovery hospital with patients sometimes on hand. It seems to be the consensus that he jeopardizes the overall group welfare as well as our priveledge to meet there. Since we are an autonomous group it is our resonsibility to maintain a positive, compassionate and caring environment to facilitate continued recovery. (He's been barred from some meetings because of his behavior.) We want to handle this properly. Constructive comments requested and welcomed.
Rod C.

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Postby Dallas » Sun Feb 12, 2012 12:31 pm

I think we have a few threads here in the forum where we've discussed this at length. However, it seems that I've always been one who's held to the belief that "If one is good -- more is better!" :lol:

Welcome to the forum! You and your participation and message is most appreciated!

And, it's timely, too!

Last night another oldtimer with 23 yrs sober had called me and left a message. It was late when I had returned the call. He was upset that some members at a local AA club had called the police on him. :lol:

Evidently, another oldtimer w/ 30 yrs sober, moved his books and sat someone else down in the chair that he had been sitting in while the 23 yr oldtimer had gotten up to get a cup of coffee.

This has happened more than a few times, where the 30 yr seemed to be picking on and disrespecting the 23 yr member -- of moving his books, pushing them off a table and onto a floor, etceteras.

The discussion got heated -- profanity was swirling -- threats of violence and scuffling.

The Chairwoman of the club -- told the 23 yr member he would have to leave or stop using the profanity.

The 23 yr member replied to the Chairwoman "What the f* are you talking to me about using profanity when nearly every word that comes out of your mouth is f* this and f* that?"

:lol: :lol: :lol:

The police were called, and after they ran the 23 yr member for warrants & he was clean... the officer said to him "Look. That old sob is sick and miserable. I don't think he'll be changing."


The experience has a few similarities to the problem you mentioned -- but, as I see it, there is ONE major difference...

Your meeting is NOT being held in an AA Club house... where disruptions in meetings or behavioral offenses or profanity have become common.

The Hospital -- is the Landlord of the meeting space. They have rules and suggestions and guidelines. And, it's either -- live up to the rules, suggestions and guidelines -- OR go find a different place to meet.

I believe that this is the same thing that needs to be said to the disruptive member... "We do have some rules and suggestions and guidelines for our meetings purpose -- they are rules that are imposed upon us -- to provide a safe, sane and profane free environment that is conducive to recovery. So, IF WE would have to find a different meeting, because we are unwilling to change and conform -- then, YOU need to find a different meeting, if YOU are unwilling to change and conform."

You are not denying the person access to AA. They can go find a different meeting where their language or behavior is acceptable to the group -- or, he/she can go start their own autonomous group.

It would be BEST to have other members of the group, together, with the person who is passing this message on to the offender... so that it's a group decision. Because without their support -- it could likely backfire.

Sometimes, a group will want an oldtimer to do it's dirty work of necessity -- but, then, not support the oldtimer doing the groups work.

One of the first lessons a person in recovery should learn is: "We have some privileges -- that are not rights." And, there is a huge difference in rights and privileges.

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Postby Dallas » Sun Feb 12, 2012 12:59 pm

When I first came to AA, most all the meetings allowed smoking. When the laws changed and landlords had to enforce the laws or else be fined -- the AA groups and meetings had a choice -- conform, or meet in a parking lot somewhere else. As AA's do -- they wanted to fight it -- until some of them were served w/ eviction notices. :lol:

I once started a meeting in a particularly rough and tough part of town. What we did was to take the regular preamble that is read at most meetings -- and add to it, a statement of part of the groups purpose. It was something similar to this addition:

"For this group's purpose -- we desire to maintain an environment that is safe and sane and healthy and conducive to recovery. So, the group-conscience decision is: that profanity or disruptive behavior is NOT allowed in our meeting. If you cannot control your language or behavior -- we ask that you leave now -- before we formally start our meeting. So, that it will not be disruptive if we must ask you to leave during the meeting.

Will those -- who cannot or will not adhere to our guidelines please quietly leave now."

Then we would pause. And, if no one left, then we'd say something like:
"Since you're still here -- it will be assumed that you have agreed to our request."

I see this as no different than asking attendee's to turn off their cell phones, or making a statement that -- this is a non-smoking meeting.

At some meeting locations -- because of landlord rules or laws -- there can not be any smoking or profanity used on any part of the campus -- including entrances or parking lots.

So, it's not an unreasonable request.

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Disruptive attendee

Postby rodc » Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:54 am

Powerful, thought through and nicely presented! I am grateful for your input.

I went to the meeting I spoke of directly following my online quiry to Step12.com forum. As a matter of fact I was a couple of minutes late and quickly sat down. At first I didn't see the "Disruptive Attendee". However, as my turn came I saw him tucked away, as usual, behind those sitting at the tables. I then proceeded to tell the group how deeply troubled I was over last week's display of criticism and profanity. I went further to say that I had been contacted by three members concerning their overall distress and disapproval. I also indicated that I had spoken with the Chairperson on the subject and it was the concensus that behavior of that nature was out of line, unacceptable and because we are autonomous, would not be tolerated.
Well, his buttons got pushed so-to-speak and out rolled the profanity bus doors open and speakers at 100 decibels or better. Three people left. The chair person instructed him to be quiet and wait his turn. I stated I would not dignify his reaction with a response.
Of the three people who had approached me, two were present. One did not even acknowledge the issue while the other passed on his turn. A doctor, in the program, stated that he didn't like contoversy but felt the"Disruptive Attendee's" display was what a dispondent member needed after he presented personal testimony last week.
As I walked out of the meeting the "Disruptive Attendee" said something about controversy and extended his hand in friendship. I responded by saying that some discension is good and that Alcoholics, in general are intelligent people able to work together. His follower, who, during the meeting, had dropped a couple of "F-Bombs" in defiance, snickered.
Well, that's where it stands. I won't tolerate another outburst but I also don't want to become a "Disruptive Attendee".

Thank You all!

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Postby Toast » Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:02 pm


Over here lots of groups read out a ' Behaviour Statement' at the start of the meeting asking folks to refrain from harrasment, bullying and any behaviour thats likely to cause offence.

Seems to work.

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Re: Disruptive attendee

Postby Brien » Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:43 am

I like how your group handles the situation Dallas, I have been to only 2 meetings where things got dangerous both at Alano Clubs.
One guy had been out of prison not to long and was getting very agitated yelling at the group from the podium lucky for us he just left
another guy maybe 270 young and strong showed up on pcp and he was threatening people the police were called and he was arrested
other than that I have never felt threatened at a meeting
I always think of AA as a safe haven so those were unsettleling to say the least

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