Tag Archives: Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous Sues for The Big Book

alcoholics anonymous

It is probably fair to say that the when Dr. Bob and Bill W met for the first time, they did not have even the faintest of idea as to the impact their mission would have on history. Two newly sober drunks just trying to live a life free from alcohol, who realized that the only way to keep what they had was to give it away. To help others experience the gift through fellowship, community and all that is possible free from the fog of inebriation.

From small beginnings, and a serious learning curve, a small group of people would go on to lay the framework for what would become a lifesaving gift for not just alcoholics, but society. Their fellowship was free from monetary incentives or prestige, designed to function in relative obscurity for decades before an invitation into the light by the ever-changing culture. The program was breaking down the stigma that has accompanied addiction for time immemorial, forcing the world to see that alcoholics and addicts were not morally bankrupt individuals, unable to control their selfish wants and desires. But, rather, millions of people who were sick, needed treatment and compassion. Not jail cells, sanatoriums or being castaway as social pariahs.

Over the last 82 years, the program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has undergone several changes in how meetings are conducted, but one thing has remained relatively unchanged—the 12 steps and the book that explains how to work them. Wording has changed, but the traditions and principles have held true. The program could work for anything that makes one’s life unmanageable. As testament to the power of the program, you can remove the word alcohol and replace it with anything that you are powerless over. And if you work the program honestly, recovery is possible.

The Big Book

If you have ever attended a meeting of AA, then you probably noticed a number of texts sitting up on the front table. Books approved by the Alcoholics Anonymous World Services (AAWS), deemed to be beneficial in the effort to stay sober—no matter what. The most important book happens to be the biggest, hence the working manuscripts moniker the “Big Book.” It includes within the writing instructions for working the program with the help of others, followed by several personal stories that recovering alcoholics can relate to.

One the major focal points of the program is the idea that while we all have different stories, inside each one can be found similarities. Powerlessness, unmanageability, surrender, acceptance and resolve. All of which can be found inside the stories in The Big Book. Like many other books that have served as spiritual compasses for humanity, the basic text of AA has helped people climb out of the abysmal depths of despair into the light of the spirit. Giving energy to those who have and are making the journey to help others out of the lonely cave of addiction.

The first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism (called The Big Book because of how thick the pages were) was published in 1939, written mainly by Bill Wilson. Much like the other spiritual texts of antiquity, The Big Book has outsold most writings to ever grace a printing press. To date, the basic text has sold over 30 million copies, according to the Akron Beacon Journal, and has served as footprint for numerous organizations whose aim is to help people recover from debilitating spiritual crises. The Library of Congress deemed the book one of 88 “Books that Shaped America.” Some twenty-years after the creation of AA the American Medical Association (AMA) declared alcoholism a medical illness, so it was fitting when the thirty-millionth copy of The Big Book was presented to the AMA.

But, What Happened to The Original Manuscript?

Any Big Book, no matter the edition has the power to save lives, but who could not help but wonder where the original manuscript landed after 78 years. It turns out that very question is the subject of a lawsuit filed on Monday by AAWS. The organization is suing the auction house, Roberts and QuestRoyal Fine Art, a New York gallery, who have plans to auction the manuscript on June 8th, Reuters reports. The manuscript was intended to be gifted to AAWS but was purchased in 2007 for $992,000 at Sotheby’s just three months before by one Ken Roberts. And according to the plaintiff, Roberts does not have the right to consign the manuscript because it had been gifted to AA in 1979.

The manuscript is an original, historical document of unique importance to AAWS, and undeniably is a critical piece of its history,” and the defendants “are wrongfully detaining the manuscript for their own pecuniary gain,” the complaint said.

For more information on the case: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. v Roberts et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 652676/2017.

Celebration of Founder’s Day

This court case may go on for quite a while; however, it is important to remember that Alcoholics Anonymous Founders’ Day 2017 will be celebrated in Akron, Ohio, on June 9, 10, and 11th. You may want to consider joining in the anniversary festivities.

12-Step Recovery Roots—Eighty-One Years

12-StepsIt is a common saying that alcoholics drink alone—but they get sober together. If you have ever attended a 12-Step meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), there is a good chance you have heard someone say something to that effect. Whether attending 12-Step meetings to help abstain from alcohol, other mind altering substances or for any one of a hundred unhealthy behaviors, it is by and large agreed upon that the 12-Step modality of recovery has proven to be the most effective method of recovery for the greatest number of people.

Millions of people across the planet have been able to break the cycle of addiction, live a healthy productive life and help others do the same by using the principles laid out in 12-Step programs. It is fair to say, that many of those same people owe their lives to such programs of recovery. The acknowledgement of which is the catalyst which compels addicts and alcoholics in recovery to help the newcomer find the miracles of recovery through sponsorship and a deep rooted community.

Eighty-One Years of Recovery

No matter which “anonymous” program[s] you find yourself affiliated with, the modality of recovery can be traced back 81 years this month. In 1935, two hopeless alcoholics converged in Akron, Ohio. At which time Bill Wilson explained to Dr. Bob Smith how he had found a way to refrain from drinking, which led the two men to develop a program of sobriety through the support of other alcoholics.

The meeting between Bill W. and Dr. Bob would be the spark setting off a chain reaction that was perhaps the first miracle of recovery. It was determined that only by giving the gift of sobriety away, could one keep their own recovery—becoming the “golden rule” of addiction recovery.

Over the years, what started as a meeting of two alcoholics driven to abstain from alcohol, morphed into three—exponentially increasing its size with relative speed. Chapters were formed across the country and today AA meetings can be found in all fifty states. What’s more, you can find one alcoholic helping another through the principles of AA in approximately 170 countries worldwide, according to AA’s General Service Office.

12-Step Gateway

At PACE Recovery Center, we would like to acknowledge everyone who has come before and is working a program of recovery through the 12-Steps. Our mission is to provide our clients with a safe and supportive environment to help them overcome the challenges of addiction. We’ll introduce you to the principles of 12-Step programs, by way of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), et. al. It is an introduction which will help you maintain your sobriety, upon completion of your stay with us.

Be Aware Of The Power Of Touch

When a friend of mine was a waitress in a local restaurant she said she could always tell when she was serving people who had just come from a Twelve Step meeting; “They are the ones that are always hugging each other!” she exclaimed. Those of us who have developed a high comfort level with physical contact, such as an arm around the shoulder or a hug, sometimes forget that we are part of a larger society that provides very complex and contradictory messages about touch. Physical contact between two people can have a powerful effect, positive or negative. There are several dynamics that play a role in a person’s view of touch which are worth examining.

The Role Of Culture

The United States is generally considered to be a non-touch culture by most researchers. One study documented a very low rate of physical contact between pairs of Americans in a coffee shop setting, as compared to pairs from three other countries. The researchers observed of pairs of people as they engaged in routine conversations within the setting of a coffee shop. During a one-hour period of time, the average number of touch exchanges between the subjects ranged from 180 in San Juan (Puerto Rico) to 110 in Paris (France) to 2 in Gainesville, FL. (United States). Only the English engaged in less touch than the Americans (0 touches). From these results we can safety assume that many Americans will be uncomfortable with touch coming from a non-family member.

The Role Of Gender

It is common knowledge that males and females differ in their views of touch. The process of learning gender roles starts at a very young age. Studies of parents of infants found that touch was offered to female children with greater frequency than to male children of the same age. Mothers more frequently touched their sons than did fathers. Fathers more frequently touched their daughters than they did their sons. As children get older this trend continues. When 3-to-5-year-old children are dropped off at day care centers fewer expressions of physical affection such as hugging, cuddling, holding, or kissing take place between parents and boys than between girls and their parents.
In addition to receiving less touch than girls, as boys grow into men they are socialized to become easily aroused sexually by physical contact and, therefore, they have a diminished capacity than women to view comforting touch as a goal in itself rather than the beginning of a sexual encounter. This view of any form of touch being sexual combined with a fear of being labeled homosexual leads to a high likelihood of males responding negatively to being touched by another man.

The Role Of Physical And Sexual Abuse

A history of physical and/or sexual abuse is commonly found in those who attend mutual-help groups. Both males and females who have experienced childhood abuse often have negative reactions to touch, particularly if it occurs without warning, such as someone coming from behind them. Those persons who have only experienced touch as violence or as sexual may be suspicious of any form of touch, regardless of the other person’s good intentions.

The Role Of Addiction

Children who are born physically addicted to alcohol or other drugs commonly exhibit a decreased desire or an actual aversion for touch. Malfunctions in the addicted infant’s nervous system frequently cause excessive sleeping or to crying. Many of these children shun physical contact, are non-responsive to being held, and experience difficulties in bonding with their caregivers. Such children can be extremely frustrating for even the most competent and well-intentioned adult, and it is common for caregivers to feel rejected, irritated, or incompetent when such children fail to respond to efforts to soothe or nurture them. Furthermore, if the adult caregiver is also an addict herself, chances are that she is a person who has diminished self-esteem, a low tolerance for stress, and difficulty forming intimate relationships, all of which increase the risk factor that a child in her care may be physically abused leading to even further problems related to touch as an adult.

Guidelines To Consider When Offering Touch To Others

Although even with the best intentions any touch may be misinterpreted, there are several factors to keep in mind when offering touch so that it will likely be viewed by others as both comforting and non-sexual.

Asking First

If at all in doubt, ask the person if a hug or other physical contact would be welcome. Do not merely assume because you would find a hug comforting that everyone shares your comfort with touch.

Having Already Formed A Relationship With The Person

The offer of a hug is more likely to be seen as a helpful gesture if you have already shown compassion for the suffering of another in ways other than the use of touch, for example, saying supportive things or taking time to listen to the person’s problems. A hug or other form of physical contact is usually more meaningful from a trusted person than from a stranger. In other words, a hug ought to be the expression of a relationship that already exists rather than an attempt to form a relationship.

An Ability To Keep One’s Ego At Bay

An ability to keep one’s ego uninvolved in the process, which includes giving up any pre-determined agenda in order to be fully available for the needs of the other person is mandatory if the touch is to be for their benefit. In other words, if you take it personally whether another persons wants a hug or not the touch is more for your benefit than the other person’s. This is particularly important for members of Al-anon to remember. New members often have a difficult time allowing others to experience the pain that is a part of the recovery process. They have a difficult time standing by and being present while another person expresses pain. They want to make it all better immediately. The hug is sometimes more about their own discomfort of seeing someone in pain than for the benefit of the other person.

Being Thoughtful About Touch

For a hug to be meaningful it has to be given in a thoughtful manner. The hug that is given out of habit rather than out of a sincere desire to be supportive has no effect at best, or is taken as an insult by the recipient.

Touching Both And Men And Women In A Similar Fashion

A heterosexual person who only offers hugs to persons of the other sex ought not to be surprised to learn that people are suspicious that these hugs are more about sexuality than about support.

A Final Reminder

One of the things meetings can offer is a safe place to experience comforting non-sexual touch. However, one must always keep in mind that other members may have very different views of the meaning of touch and approach any touch with caution. Anything powerful enough to heal also has the power to harm, and touch is no exception.

________________________________________
Dr. Mic Hunter is the author of:
The Ethical Use Of Touch In Psychotherapy (with Jim Struve)
Back To The Source: The Spiritual Principles Of Jesus,
Conscious Contact: The 12 Steps As Prayer
Honor Betrayed: Sexual Abuse In America’s Military,
Abused Boys: The Neglects Victims of Sexual Abuse
His solo practice is located in St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

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