- What Happened? by Cliff B.

What Happened? by Cliff B.




General discussions related to A.A. History.

What Happened? by Cliff B.

Postby Dallas » Fri Jul 03, 2009 5:47 am

(Note: You are not seeing double! Because of the importance and relevance of this article it was posted in the Recovery Topics and here in the AA History section.


What Happened?

by Cliff B.


That question is being asked by a lot of alcoholics lately. What happened to our high success rate? 30 & 40 years ago, we were keeping 75% or more of the alcoholics who came to us for help. Today, we aren’t keeping even 5%. What happened?

What happened to that wonderful A.A. Group that was around for 20, 30 or 40 years? There used to be 50, 75, 100 or more at every meeting. It is now a matter of history; gone! More and more groups are folding every day. What happened?

We hear a lot of ideas, opinions and excuses as to what happened but things are not improving. They continue to get worse. What is happening?

Bill W. wrote,

“In the years ahead A.A. will, of course, make mistakes. Experience has taught us that we need have no fear of doing this, providing that we always remain willing to admit our faults and to correct them promptly. Our growth as individuals has depended upon this healthy process of trial and error. So will our growth as a fellowship.

Let us always remember that any society of men and women that cannot freely correct its own faults must surely fall into decay if not into collapse. Such is the universal penalty for the failure to go on growing. Just as each A.A. must continue to take his moral inventory and act upon it, so must our whole Society if we are to survive and if we are to serve usefully and well.â€
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Postby leejosepho » Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:09 pm

He (a Delegate) said, in essence, we are no longer showing the newcomer 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. We are not telling them about our Traditions and how very important they are to the individual groups and to Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole. Rather, we are using our meeting time for drunkalogues, a discussion of our problems, ideas and opinions or "my day" or "my way".


In my own actual experience, all of that is averted in the presence of real A.A. groups doing real 12th-Step work and conducting real A.A. meetings, and with our autonomous fellowships' resulting "success rates" thereby being exactly the same as ever:

"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path." ("Alcoholics Anonymous", the book, page 58)

But overall, yes, today's AA is beset with a relative ineffectiveness, and here is where it got its own beginning:

"In the spring of 1940, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. gave a dinner... By March 1941 the membership had shot up to 2,000... By the close of 1941, A.A. numbered 8,000 members... A.A. had become a national institution." (Foreword To Second Edition (in Third Edition))

Is that our fault? You can decide that for yourself, if you wish:

Two men "had appeared in court, persuading the judge to suspend [Ebby's] commitment" ("A.A.", the book, page 9), then Ebby had visited Bill, then Bill had talked with Dr. Bob, then those two had talked with "A.A. Number Three" ... and before long, we had been deluged after being publicized beyond our capabilities!

What is the solution?

We need to return from this:

"Our earliest printing voiced the hope 'that every alcoholic who journeys will find the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous at his destination.'" (Foreword To Second Edition (in Third Edition))

To this:

"Some day we hope that every alcoholic who journeys will find a Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous at his destination." ("Alcoholics Anonymous", the book, page 162)
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Postby Dallas » Mon Aug 03, 2009 11:20 pm

By March 1941 the membership had shot up to 2,000... By the close of 1941, A.A. numbered 8,000 members... A.A. had become a national institution."


I believe the problem started before that... but, as the growth of AA exploded... it also exploded the problem.

However, I'm told my many older than me, that the problem wasn't as bad until the late 1970's... early 1980's. I don't know. I don't know if that's perception or what because I wasn't here then. (SD 11/14/1986).

Researching the history of AA, it leads me to believe that the problem had a huge re-surfacing in the late 50's... when AA started pushing other literature.

a. The problem starts around 1938... because the "plan of recovery is being carried word of mouth."

b. Bill, was worried that the "word of mouth message... was getting twisted around" and they needed an "authority like the book" to say firmly and factly... "what they were doing".

c. Bill and Hank P., also so the profit potential... and they were hitting some hard times financially.

d. To turn Bill's visionary thoughts into reality... they were going to need a whole lot of seed money!

e. Need money? Got a good reason to write a book? (same goes in today's culture)... then, write a book, sell it and make seed money! That's what Bill did.

f. The AA population explosion took place when AA had no money to pay to print books... in early 1940/41 (and later).

g. And, then, things began to settle down... and the book was being read and people were trying to follow the instructions in the book.

h. In the early 1950's... Bill and AA (probably because of Bill)... got money hungry! They were broke. Book sales were still not good and AA's were not contributing financially to support the NY efforts.

i. The solution???? Write more books to sell! After an AA bought the big book... there was nothing left to sell him/her! But, if they came up with more books to sell... that would raise more money!

j. So the push started with Bill writing the 12 & 12... and other literature. The timing of the 12 & 12, for me, shows that this is the significant event that transformed AA, and caused it's downward spiral.

k. AA was then in the publishing business and lost it's focus on it's "primary purpose".. "the 12 Steps... and the AA message in the Big Book." It started printing "other messages" and making big money from literature sales... and residuals were being paid out... and it tooks it's dive.

l. I believe this is why the efforts of Charlie & Joe, in the mid 1980's and on... was one of the significant events in AA's history, that kept AA from collapsing. They tried the get the fellowship "back to the message that's in the Big Book."

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Postby ROBERT » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:15 am

----PEOPLE HAPPENED----
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Postby gunner48 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 9:30 am

My thoughts here.
If AA has changed and is no longer effective in the degree I think it should be I only need to look at ME. The hair on the back of my neck stands up when I hear AA isn't what it use to be. Why, because the people (me) who have been around awhile aren't doing things the way we were taught.
ie: Are you meeting with other fellows helping them or just saying go to 90 meetings in 90 days.
Are you sitting down with someone and guiding them through the recovery process or just saying read the book and if you have any questions call me.
The meetings you go to are you offering a message of hope or bragging about your past
This list could go on and on. I use to say recovery centers were the problem but today I see that I am not being as effective as I could be.
Over the past few years I have changed my approach by going back and doing the things I was taught. Yes I had my period of lazyiness. Meet face to face with people I am trying to help. Read the big book with them and try to explain what is being asked of them. Share my life with them so they don't feel alone or different.
Bryan spent alot of time with me showing me he cared. Today I try to show the people Around me that I care.
Oh by the way I still meet with my sponsor every Wednesday. We go to his home group for a meeting (he chairs that one (29 years sober and still active with others), he has a topic selected), then we go eat lunch and talk about life. Usually 5 to 15 of us gather to socialize.
I got sober because someone cared enough about me to sit aside their things and reach out to help. Am I passing AA forward or saying I got mine so you go get your.
I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR CARRING THE MESSAGE OF RECOVERY TO THE ONES WHO WANT IT.
I had to stop waiting for someone else to do the work of AA and get back into Action myself. Nothing will so much Ensure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. Carry this message to other alcoholics.
PEACE AND LOVE
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Postby DebbieV » Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:27 am

Thank you Gunner48.

And very well put.

That is what I needed to hear. I need to always remember the one who helped me and now need to be the one who helps others.

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Postby ROBERT » Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:54 am

Yea, I see in the meetings, alot of opportunities for me to learn from--many folks tend to want to give instructions rather than experience--in my opinion, sharing experience as to how it was for me, what happened to me, and what is like today can connect to others better than my giving directions. I feel confident that if I do my part as the literature describes the ones that are to hear what they need to hear will, by Gods grace...and GUNNER48 wow, absolutley right on, after meetings is a great time to get to know others, let them get to know me, and let them see I do care, and I do, I've been there, and was was in the dark for a long, long time--by Gods grace, a sudden spiritual awakening happened and I've not been the same since...a wonderful experience indeed, so to see others in pain,to feel their pain, makes me reach out to them in love-they are my fellow travellers and I care deeply--at one time I did not give a hoot for any one, this radical change in my outlook is one of the gifts God has allowed me to experience...so showing others love and compassion is as vital to me as air....thanks Gunner48
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Postby Dallas » Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:00 pm

Gunner wrote:Over the past few years I have changed my approach by going back and doing the things I was taught.


I see that we both made the same discovery!

I find it imperative for me to continue reading the BB and doing all the things that I learned that was passed on to me and to continue to learn and grow in effectiveness at doing the things I learned in the beginning.

I know, from my own experience, and the experience of countless others that I have known, that my alcoholic mind will want to rest on it's laurels... and reap the harvest of my previous work.

That won't cut it for me... because I'll slip right off the path and down a deep cliff, if I do.

That's the hardest task I've had to learn in sobriety... Structure and discipline. It's a daily challenge for me.

I have to remember that being a sower is more important than being a harvester. When I'm harvesting I'm not sowing. And, when I'm not sowing... I'll have no harvest for tomorrow.

Sow to reap and reap to sow and the harvest will always produce more to sow with.

Thanks to all of you here on Step12.com for helping to keep me and my life in order and on the path! I seriously doubt that I could continue to do the deal without you.

So, to you... all of you... I owe the good life that I've received.

Thank you,

Dallas B.
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Postby DiggerinVA » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:04 pm

One of these days I need to sit down a write my experiences in AA down. I did have such an odd entry.

This entry really instilled into me the importance of the words in the Big Book. Also how far AA has drifted.

AA is a program and a fellowship. The program is the 12 steps in the Big Book must come 1st; after that the fellowship will work.

The 90 meeting thing annoys me. I watched a guy break down after being told he had to do 90 meetings in 90 days, before someone would sponsor him. I told him their were others and the message was in the Big Book, I was very new(I was looking for my sponsor too). Between my work schedule and family obligations the 90 and 90 were not possible. So I empathized with him telling him to keep looking someone would. I saw him once more.

On point J by Dallas I sort of see it as the miss use of the publications. People don't understand who the 12 and 12 were meant for example. Yes in the forward Bill states who it is for, The Fellowship. But the Fellowship makeup has changed drastically. Many newcomers come in to a "Step Meeting" to learn the steps. There by confusing the issue at hand, wasting time. Then the typical Alcoholic hits that pink cloud and has forgotten the pain; and self takes over again.

In "Working With Others" the time line is established. There is a window between the stupor and that point self takes over when the memory of the pain fades. AA with the meeting drift just does not hit that window, it waits for the next point of pain that occurs when the emotions and feelings attack, then the help comes.

Also don't forget those who are there just using the fellowship to not drink (Not working program).

Another article I like on the subject is Gresham's Law and AA.

I hope this make sense.
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Postby leejosepho » Tue Aug 04, 2009 5:34 pm

Dallas wrote:...the efforts of Charlie & Joe, in the mid 1980's and on... was one of the significant events in AA's history, that kept AA from collapsing. They tried the get the fellowship "back to the message that's in the Big Book."


I have lost track of exactly when this happened for me, but I believe it was near the end of my second year "in the Fellowship" when I was finally 12th-Stepped by Charlie & Joe, via tape. While certainly not meaning to criticize or complain or whine about anyone else I had known before then, I simply report that as part of my own experience. My first sponsor did the best he could with what he knew, then a couple more, in turn, did the same. But for those first two years of mine here, I was completely baffled by the continuous conflict between what I was hearing in meetings and what I was reading in our book, and even to the point of fearing I was completely insane.

Some tremendous work was done through Charlie & Joe's chipping away at the tip of the iceberg.
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