- How long did it take Bill W. to take the 12 Steps?

How long did it take Bill W. to take the 12 Steps?




12 Steps: Discussions related to the 12 Steps and using them as a treatment to recover from alcohol and drug addiction.

Postby Dallas » Tue Aug 26, 2008 12:38 pm

garden variety wrote:So I believe one of the things in a protege' that we can "sense" when he is willing and ready is desperation. For me, that's an ingredient that made the whole idea of 12 steps more meaningful. I knew that I was going to drink again, and that would mean to die, so I was desperate just like the book says.


Precisely. Desparation is the primary component. When the desparation is not there -- it's like trying to bake a cake without the flower. A primary ingredient is missing from the recipe (formula i.e. 12 Steps)... (comment: if a new man/woman has gone to 30 meetings in 30 days or 150 meetings in 90 days... and hasn't taken the Steps... he/she has become less and less desparate... and lacks the necessary ingredient for the spiritual awakening in a timely fashion. It may take them 5, 10, 20, 30 years... to have it on an educational installment plan.).

When the desparation is gone the feet are dragging. Then, if the newcomer is staying dry... they have to wait until there is another major crisis in their life to motivate them to get "Into Action". Something like life becomes unbearable while sober... or life comes apart at the seams and they are at the "jumping off place." They'll most often take a drink or take the Steps.

The term "sponsor" originated with the Oxford Groups. Eventually, the way the Drunks Squad (future AA's) were using it became like this:

On day one:

1. The sober drunks would call on the drinking drunk, and tell him what the problem was and then leave. The problem was described like Dr. Silkworth had explained to Bill: Allergy. Compulsion. Progressive. Gates of insanity or death. "But, ha ha ha... I'm staying sober and you're gonna die because you don't have the solution that I have!" (Maybe not in those words... but that was the idea of the approach).

They wanted the prospect to reach "desparation and hopeless and become willing to go to any lengths." (Step 1)

A couple of days later:

2. A sober drunk, or sober drunk(s) would call on the drinking drunk and ask him if he believed in God. (Step 2)

If the drinking drunk was physically sober... "out of the fog"... admitted that he was hopeless and desparate, (Step 1), and believed in God, (Step 2)... the sober drunk would take him to an Oxford Group meeting held at Dr. Bob's house... and announce:

"I vouch that this drunk is sober, he has admitted that he's a hopeless alcoholic (understands the problem as described by Silkworth), and he believes in God. (Steps 1 & 2), he is NOW willing to go to any lengths NOW, and I am willing to sponsor him. (i.e. take the remaining Steps)."

If the fellowship said "Okay", usually Dr. Bob and a couple of other sober drunks would take him upstairs in Dr. Bob's house, and have him get down on his knees and make the "surrender" (take the 3rd Step)... "if" they did not believe the guy was sincere in his surrender they didn't let him in. The guy had to be serious about wanting to "change."

Bill knew that alcoholics can't handle religious terms like "surrender" so he dropped the word, in the 3rd Step, he softened the language to be "made a decision".

Then, the sponsor got together and led the new man/woman through the rest of the formula to top off the "conversion" (the list of character defects, asking God to remove them, restitution, and the daily guidelines to help him live sober. (Daily prayer and meditation, seeking guidance and direction from God, and cleaning up any new mistakes while he worked on finishing up making restitution... what would become Steps 8, 9, 10, 11).

Then the new man/woman was expected to "carry the message" immediately ("witness" another religious term that drunks choked on, and was changed to "carry this message")... as a vital part of his recovery and sobriety... to another alcoholic.

Seldom did the process take more than a few days.

Bill, in the letter that I referred to above, indicated, that in Akron and Cleveland... their results were 80% successful, and only 20% successful in New York, when they tried the different approach. Perhaps, this is why the Forward to the Second Edition, written in 1955, indicated a combined percentage of "50% were getting sober on their first trip in, and 25% were making it after a few relapses" (in the early 1940's era of AA and a BIG difference in the 5% or less successful rate that we see today).

After good publicity in Cleveland, where Clarence S. was heading up the new society... (Clarence was using Dr. Bob's way of leading the new person through the Steps in a very timely fashion (faster than we see it done today and different, in many regards)... there were too many newcomers for the sponsors to be able to sponsor them, one-to-one, leading them through the Steps.

Clarence knew that if they (the sober AA's in Cleveland) didn't get them through the Steps while they were still desparate (first few days of sobriety)... they would lose them because the alcoholic would go back to drinking... so, he started having meetings that are similar to what we often refer to today, as "work-shop type meetings"... where he could lead them through the Steps in mass form. :lol:

Clarence also believed that no amount of meetings would keep the alkie dry -- if they didn't have the vital spiritual experience to remove the obsession and the compulsion to drink... and "to change."

garden variety wrote:But that passage also refers to us, the "menotrs" or "sponsors" - the men and women who have had a spiritual awakening and now have a message to carry - that there is a solution to the problem of alcoholism.


Yep. That was the requirement to be able to sponsor a new man/woman. The sponsor had to have had the spiritual awakening as the result of the first 11 Steps. Or, he wasn't qualified to sponsor. He couldn't pass on something that he didn't have... :wink:

His basic job as sponsor, was to :

1. make sure his new prospect understood what the problem was: alcoholism = allergy, compulsion, progression, hopeless. (Step 1)

2. make sure that he knew what the solution was... a spiritual awakening as the result of the 12 Steps.

3. Lead the new person through the Steps, out of the problem and into the solution for recovery.

Thanks for letting me share. :wink:

And, thanks to all of you for your participation in this topic! I appreciate you and your sharing!!!

Dallas
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Postby Jim W » Mon Sep 01, 2008 4:17 pm

First off, I love Bill's Story.

I was given an exercise to do with the first eight pages of Bill's Story. I was instructed to set aside the differences to identfy with how Bill thought, felt, and drank in order to answer a question on page 17. I do this exercise with the people I sponsor today.

I was taught to take every statement I could and turn it into a question that only I could answer to myself. The statement on page 17 is this:

"We know thousands of men and women who were once just as hopeless as Bill. Nearly all have recovered. They have solved the drink problem."

The question is this-am I as hopeless as Bill? So when I read the first eight pages, if I can set aside the differences, I can identify with Bill. At first it was difficult because I wanted to see the differences. Bill was in the military overseas, I was never in the military. Bill went to college, I barely finished high school. Bill was a white collar Wall Street guy, I have worked blue collar type jobs my whole life. Bill went a little farther down the scale with alcoholism than I did, and so forth and so on.

But then I said a prayer "God help me to see what I need to see," and things were revealed to me. What I saw was that despite having much knowledge of himself as an alcoholic and having every reason not to drink, Bill always drank again. That is me-I always drink again. And that is why I am just as hopleless as Bill. And there is the hope. If am hopeless, there is hope and I can recover. And from that comes the willingness to do what Bill did in those unnumbered steps.

Today, not only can I identify with Bill's alcoholism, I can identify with his recovery because I've had the experience Bill described.
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Postby Jim W » Mon Sep 01, 2008 5:00 pm

Dallas,

Here is that correspondence that you were speaking of regarding the difference between New York AA and Akron/Cleveland AA. At the time the recovery rate was much higher in Akron & Cleveland than it was in NYC. Bill reckoned it was because in Ohio, the full-on spiritual approach was emphasized, whereas in NYC it was more about fellowship. Some things never change. I see the same thing where I live. Lots of meetings, but not a lot of strong AA groups where spiritual recovery is emphasized.

I found this in the book "The Spirituality of Imperfection," by Ernest Kurtz. It is an excerpt of a letter written by Bill in January 1940 to Gracie Snyder, Clarence Snyder's then wife. Here it is:

During the past 12 onths we have had quite a number who felt that the fellowship, the helpful attitude toward others, the warming of the heart at social gatherings, was going to be enough to overcome the alcoholic's obsession. Taking stock at year's end, we find that this school of thought has few survivors, for the bottled heat treatment has persuaded them that we must find some sort of spiritual basis for living, else we die. A few, who have worked ardently with other alcoholics on the philosophical, rather than the spiritual plane, now say of themselves "we believed that faith without works was dead, but we have now conclusively proved that works with faith is dead also."
Jim
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Postby Dallas » Tue Sep 02, 2008 1:05 am

Thanks Jim!!!

That is the letter that I was thinking of and looking for!


Dallas B.
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Postby Jim W » Tue Sep 02, 2008 3:57 pm

Dallas wrote:Thanks Jim!!!

That is the letter that I was thinking of and looking for!


Dallas B.


You bet Dallas. Sorry about the typos. A case of fingers going faster than the head.
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Postby kidlizard » Mon Sep 08, 2008 12:50 pm

What do you mean when you say spiritual recovery?
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Postby Dallas » Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:20 pm

kidlizard wrote:What do you mean when you say spiritual recovery?


If we knew who "you" is (that you referred to) and which message you found the term "spiritual recovery" (so that we could read it, too) ... it would probably make it a lot easier for the "you" (that you addressed your question to) to be able to answer your question.

Specificity is always a welcome element in concise and precise communication.

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Postby kidlizard » Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:33 pm

Jim W wrote:Dallas,

Here is that correspondence that you were speaking of regarding the difference between New York AA and Akron/Cleveland AA. At the time the recovery rate was much higher in Akron & Cleveland than it was in NYC. Bill reckoned it was because in Ohio, the full-on spiritual approach was emphasized, whereas in NYC it was more about fellowship. Some things never change. I see the same thing where I live. Lots of meetings, but not a lot of strong AA groups where spiritual recovery is emphasized.
Jim


Sorry here it is.
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Postby Dallas » Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:41 pm

Thanks kidlizard,

Hopefully, Jim W. will log-in and provide an explanation of what he meant by:
Jim W. wrote:...spiritual recovery


And, thank you for asking the question. I read through the message and evidently I must have assumed he was referring to taking the 12 Steps (the recovery program of A.A.) with the intention of having a"Spiritual Awakening" as in spiritual experience... " as the result of these Steps" (as mentioned in Step 12). :lol: I failed to ask for clarification. So, I'm glad that you did! :wink:

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Postby Jim W » Tue Sep 09, 2008 11:58 pm

I'll clarify my statement here in the next few days. Been working long hours and just finished a fourteen hour day, so I'm off to bed.
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12 Step Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery | - How long did it take Bill W. to take the 12 Steps?