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Topics related to AA Meetings - and alcohol addiction recovery

Question

Postby Buck V » Mon May 08, 2006 5:17 pm

I have a question about meetings. Or maybe it's not about meetings, but kinda sorta relating to tradition 3. Or maybe both Or maybe neither. Anyway....We've had a young lady who has recently started coming to some of our meetings. Evidently, she went through an ugly divorce, lost custody of her child, basically lost everything, went through rehab and came down to this area to live with her parents because she didn't have anywhere else to go. She doesn't have a drivers license so her attendance at meetings was fairly spotty; she could only come when her mother would drive her, or when she could catch a ride with someone. She showed up late to a meeting the other night in obvious distress. After the readings and introductions the leader asked, as we do at the start of every meeting, whether anyone has had a problem with their disease today that they would like to share and gain some hope, strength and experience from the group?. This young lady broke down completely, said how she just couldn't handle it any more, is contemplating suicide, is being treated for depression but her meds are all messed up. Around this time the leader broke in and said "Young lady, I'm sorry for your troubles, but I'm an alcoholic, and this is a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. If you are having a problem with your prescription medication or anything other than alcoholism, I suggest you speak with your doctor or one of the other ladies after the meeting. Tonight is a Step Study and I'll now begin the reading." In a rather stunned silence, the step was read. We went on to discuss the step but it was obvious the comments were directed towards her, about our powerlessness over anything, and trying to manage our unmanageable lives. After the meeting many people flocked around her and she has since got a sponsor, attends most of the meetings and looks 100 percent better. I also heard that several of the old tiimers had a talk with the leader of that meeting...an old timer himself.

My question is: When do we stop helping others? When they stop having a problem with alcohol and replace it with another? Would it had been more acceptable if she had said "I can't handle it any more and I want to take a drink" instead of "I can't handle it any more and I can't control my meds and I want to kill myself."? The 12x12, when talking about tradition 3 relates how an alcoholic who was a "victim of an addiction even worse stigmatized than alcoholism" was almost denied membership until a member of the group asked "What would the Master do?" (12x12 p. 142)

We do try to confine our comments and discussions to alcohol and alcoholism in our meetings, but where do we draw the line? This young lady says she's an alcoholic but has a lot of other issues on her plate. Is it inappropriate to bring up issues other than alcoholism during a meeting? What do we really mean when we close our meetings by saying "Anytime, anywhere, when anyone reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there, and for that I am responsible."? Anyone else out there have some experience with this?

Thanks. Buck
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Postby Dallas » Tue May 09, 2006 4:08 am

Hey Buck, without actually being there at the meeting... I can’t really share my experience with that particular incident... which means the only thing I would have is my opinion... and my opinion would be worthless!

I will say, that asking "What would the Master do?".... is the best place to start in handling any situation! I wish I would do that more often!

I’ve been in meetings and have experienced similar situations. For me... it has always been an uneasy situation to be in. And, whenever I’m acting on theory rather than practice... it can lead to disaster. I didn’t wake up one morning feeling very saintly and admiring my better qualities and decide that I was such a good person and a great communicator... that I now qualified to join A.A.! Quite the opposite for me. And, I know of times when my motives and intentions might have been perfect... but my behavior or the way that I did or said something was repulsive... even to me! (Thank God, for the 10th Step!)

The Leader or Chairperson of the meeting has a responsibility to the Group, to keep the meeting focused on the topic and in the format that the Group chose for the topic and format.... and at the same time, he or she is also looking to help someone... which is hopefully, why they came to the meeting in the first place. Contingencies, such as “what if this happensâ€
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Postby cinderbobble » Tue May 09, 2006 6:09 am

Well, I for one, can truly understand your confusion! The only response that I can think of, is that I agree w/Dallas, that it is the leader's responsibility to keep a meeting focused, but then, why ask if there is any problem dealing with the disease? Well, then, my response to your question, is that each problem is unique, and each leader equally so. It is not hard to imagine the feelings of alienation that must have pervaded the room as each person was glad that they were not in this young lady's shoes. However, I also feel that we are all guided into AA. We hold on to many truisms, of which I blindly held on to. One of them is 'there are no accidents,' only coincidences. So, what you heard, and what that young woman heard could possibly be different things. I recall when somebody had to be blunt with me! Shook me right out of my tree, and the result was a strong sense of spiritual freedom as this person tried to get me to see the situation clearly! I needed that bluntness at that time. One time, I was blithely (?!?) told to sit down and let somebody talk who has something to say! Needless to say, I was humiliated, but it was the truth! And I have told somebody else in a meeting the same thing, when a practicing alky was allowed to monopolize the meeting.

My next suggestion, is get a sponsor who understands the traditions. Remember, these are traditions, and we do not enforce them as policemen. Not abiding to traditions will either cause us to fall apart, or we may awaken to the need to return to them. Let's hope it is the latter.

Perhaps I have not answered your question, but I think I can assure you there are probably as many perspectives on this as there are of us!
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Postby Buck V » Tue May 09, 2006 3:16 pm

As a postcript, I do want to emphasize that the young lady did get help from members of the group and she does appear to be a lot better. So the hand of AA was there in that regard. I just shudder to think that I may have been reading about her in the "Death Notices" of our local weekly paper if she hadn't made herself come to the meeting and share. My sponser was there at that meeting, Dallas, and we did talk about it afterward and he seemed as upset as I (and most everyone else) was. He thinks that we should definitely discuss meeting conduct at our next group consciousness meeting, not only because of this instance, but sometimes the meetings do tend to get a little out of control at times. Had it been me leading that meeting (I've yet to lead one, but, according to my sponsor, my time draweth near) I probably would have let her ramble on and let the group take over the discussion. As Cinderbobble says, each situation is unique and each person's reaction to those situations is unique as well.

Buck
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Re:question

Postby Returned_Here » Tue May 09, 2006 4:01 pm

Buck,

I went through very similar when I came to AA. If you read my first post, you will see that I was a very messed up person when I came in the doors of AA. I didn't speak for over a month, then it was minimal. When I finally spoke, I was blasted for "outside issues" the same way this other lady was. I wondered, if this was what AA was about, the harshness, the uncaring attitude, why stay? Yet, I did. I was reading my BB that night, when I realized in the stories that Dr. Bob was an addict. I read through the beginning of the BB where it spoke about Dr. Bob's career, grandfather, family, church, and many outside issues. I sat in wonder, what happened to AA? I read in the BB how Dr. Bob said he wanted not only Alcoholics to recover, but also countless others. NA and all the other groups weren't even thought of then. I didn't have a sponsor, but I went back to the meetings and continued to read my BB, using my HP as my main sponsor and finding a sponsor with skin on too. The next time I heard someone get blasted, I calmly and gently spoke about what I had learned from the BB, and what I felt it meant. I told them how the time I had in the AA program was the longest I'd ever had, but for me, every thing was an inside issue. Being an Alcoholic/Addict I used to make anything be a reason to drink or drug.

AA helped me to solve issues that years of counseling didn't touch. It helped me to stop drugging. It helped me to reunite with family and rebuild those relationships. It helped me to learn to love myself. It finally helped me to see that this person who blasted me, was not perfect, he had his imperfections just like I do. He was clinging to the letter of the law so hard to try to keep the meeting by the book that he could have cost a human life. (Same as what happened to your friend.) Was he wrong? I guess that would be a matter of opinion. Today I know what my answer is, it hasn't changed since I read the BB that had one of the stories titled, "Dr. Bob, Alcoholic/Addict." But hey, that's just one Alcoholic's opinion. We all need to be different. Difference is what makes this world worth living. It is what makes yin-yang, good & bad, sweet & sour. (Can you imagine Chinese food without sweet & sour??) It's what makes bikers & ballet dancers.

I think your group had the answer, you said it. They directed their responses to the girl in effort to help her. The same thing happened in my meeting. Some even voiced their displeasure of what had happened. Maybe that's why I stayed. Maybe I had just hit a low enough bottom for me. Unfortunately the statistics show that out of 5 people, one will die from this disease. Out of the 4 left, 3 will go back out. Only one will stay sober from the beginning. Sad statistic, considering all we need to do is come to meetings, work the steps, be honest and help others. (Basically clean house and trust God.)

One of the most difficult parts of being sober & clean for me is seeing those that I care about (everyone), go back out - and some die.

Thanks for letting me ramble...that's all I've got. I pass.
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Postby Rusty Zipper » Wed May 10, 2006 1:14 am

hey all, this is good stuff... i would love to have been at that meeting... i love this stuff. ... contraversy... let me at it.. IMO, group conscience is a big part of the particular group... most of the ones i have read are very openended, smart, it leaves room for growth, or at times, a groups failure... some remain the same for many years, and some go from huge, to a coulple, and back up... every situation is different... moods, tempature, the time of year, ect. ect. ect. affect the meetings... the person chair'n, the person leading, the guy with the squeeky shoes... and as the tradition states, "as it affects the group as a hole" oop's, whole!, lol! and there are some (_|_)'s........ i do not think anyone should take a group hostage... one has to be Mature ### nice post dallas #### to know if he or she is.... problem, no maturity at this stage... as long as the group doesnt try to reed the script, all will work out as should be... theres this way, that way, and a whole other way we never thought about! ..........the only requirement is a desire to stop... Bottom Line..........ty for let'n me blab.... agw & tol, (_z_) .....ps, come early, stay late... it works for me
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