Monthly Archives: February 2007

More About Alcholism

Though there is no way of proving it, we believe that early in our drinking careers most of us could have stopped drinking. But the difficulty is that few alcoholics have enough desire to stop while there is yet time. We have heard of a few instances where people, who showed definite signs of alcoholism, were able to stop for a long period because of an overpowering desire to do so. Here is one.

A man of thirty was doing a great deal of spree drinking. He was very nervous in the morning after these bouts and quieted himself with more liquor. He was ambitious to succeed in business, but saw that he would get nowhere if he drank at all. Once he started, he had no control whatever. He made up his mind that until he had been successful in business and had retired, he would not touch another drop. An exceptional man, he remained bone dry for twenty-five years and retired at the age of fifty-five, after a successful and happy business career. Then he fell victim to a belief which practically every alcoholic has – that his long period of sobriety and self-discipline had qualified him to drink as other men. Out came his carpet slippers and a bottle. In two months he was in a hospital, puzzled and humiliated. He tried to regulate his drinking for a while, making several trips to the hospital meantime. Then, gathering all his forces, he attempted to stop altogether and found he could not. Every means of solving his problem which money could buy was at his disposal. Every attempt failed. Though a robust man at retirement, he went to pieces quickly and was dead within four years.”That’s right DEAD. We learn that this disease is progressive and FATEL”

This case contains a powerful lesson. Most of us have believed that if we remained sober for a long stretch, we could thereafter drink normally. But here is a man who at fifty-five years found he was just where he had left off at thirty. We have seen the truth demonstrated again and again: “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” Commencing to drink after a period of sobriety, we are in a short time as bad as ever. If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol.

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More About Alcholism

Despite all we can say, many who are real alcoholics are not going to believe they are in that class. By every form of self-deception and experimentation, they will try to prove themselves exceptions to the rule, therefore nonalcoholic. If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right- about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him. Heaven knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to drink like other people!

Here are some of the methods we have tried: Drinking beer only, limiting the number of drinks, never drinking alone, never drinking in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the house, never drinking during business hours, drinking only at parties, switching from scotch to brandy, drinking only natural wines, agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the job, taking a trip, not taking a trip, swearing off forever (with and without a solemn oath), taking more physical exercise, reading inspirational books, going to health farms and sanitariums, accepting voluntary commitment to asylums – we could increase the list ad infinitum.

We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition. “The key words here are (if you are honest with yourself). We must always remain honest with ourselves and true to our hearts if we are to succeed”.

Important Days of A.A.

Dear Friends:

It is with great sadness that we share the news
that Nell Wing died on Wednesday, February 14,
2007 at 7:00 p.m. after a lengthy illness. Nell
was 89 years old.

As most of you know, Nell was Bill W.’s secretary
and assistant for 17 years and a close friend
and long-time companion to Lois W. She worked
at the General Service Office of A.A. from the
beginning of 1947 until her retirement at the
close of 1982, starting as a receptionist and
later becoming secretary of A.A. World Services,
Inc. Additionally, she served as G.S.O.’s first
archivist for the last ten of her years at the
office. The Archives opened in 1975.

We would like to take a moment to celebrate
Nell’s life and share the following:

From Markings, November/December 1983, when
Nell announced her retirement in print:
“…I hope to stay nearby; and never lessen
interest in this fellowship, nor loosen the
close bonds of friendship with my A.A. and
Al-Anon friends. I’m forever grateful for this
marvelous experience that began for me on
March 3, 1947, at 415 Lexington Ave., New York
City, in 3 small rooms of the Central Terminal
Building. I have enjoyed and treasured every
moment of it. I won’t say `goodbye:’ just want
to extend my love and thanks to each one of
you dear friends.”

Please join all of us at the General Service
Office in extending our heartfelt condolences
to Nell’s family.

Thank you,

Amy Filiatreau
Archivist
AA World Services, Inc.

Important Days Of A.A

DR. NORRIS’ TALK at the MEMORIAL SERVICES held for BILL Wilson
in New York City on February 14, 1971

Our beloved Bill is dead. Even as I stand before you and say the
words, I cannot really believe that it is true. In my heart I choose
to believe that Bill is here with us at this very moment. And I
somehow can almost hear him saying in that half-amused, half
embarrassed way of his, “Oh come on now Jack, do you really think all
this fuss is necessary?”

Two weeks ago, at a meeting of your Board of Trustees, shortly after
Bill’s passing, there was a rather lively discussion about a matter
involving the whole fellowship. When it had reached a certain level
of intensity, I found myself waiting to hear Bill speak up, as he so
often did and say those few words that would put everything in
perspective. But he didn’t speak. And it was then that I realized way
down deep that we would never hear his voice again…that we could no
longer count on the constant presence of his wisdom and strength. We
could never again say as we had said so many times before, “Bill,
what do you think?” And I at least, have not yet come to accept this
completely.

Bill was no saint. He was an alcoholic and a man of stubborn will and
purpose. How else could he have lived through the years of
frustration, failure, and discouragement while the steps, the
traditions, and the conference were being hammered out on the anvil
of hard experience with the first few groups? That he had the
self-honesty, the clarity of vision to see the vital necessity for
the Third Step, and turning one’s life and will over to a Higher
Power is just one part of our great good fortune that Bill lived. I
have seen Bill’s pride and I have seen his humility. And I have been
present when people from far countries have met him for the first
time and started to cry. And all Bill – that shy Vermonter – could do
was stand there and look like he wanted to run from the room. No,
Bill was no saint, although many of us wanted to make him into one.
Knowing this, he was insistent that legends about him be kept to a
minimum – that accurate records be kept so that future generations
would know him as a man. He was a very human person — to me an
exceptionally human person.

Bill’s constant concern during almost all of the years that I knew
him was that Alcoholics Anonymous should always be available for the
suffering alcoholic–that the mistakes that led to the fading of
previous movements to help alcoholics should be avoided. To me one
measure of his greatness is the clarity of his vision of the future
in his determination to let go of us long before we were willing to
let go of him.

Bill was a good sponsor, – the wise old timer determined to
relinquish the role of founder because he knew that A.A. must, as he
would say, come of age and take complete responsibility for itself.
He had an abiding faith that our Fellowship not only could, but
should run without him. Repeatedly, during the last few years, he has
said in General Service Conference sessions “We have nothing to
fear.” Bill believed that the wisdom of A.A. came out of church
basements and not from the pulpit; that it was directed from the
groups to the Trustees rather than the other way around. He sometimes
felt, though, when the Conference disagreed with him as it sometimes
did, that its conscience needed to be better informed, but it was
this way that we really shared experience and developed strength and
confidence that the answers would work out.

Bill knew that it was not one voice that should be heard, but many
thousands of voices. And it was his gift that he was able to listen
to them all, then, out of the noise and confusion discern the group
conscience. Then he would put it all together, the tension of
argument would fade, and everyone would realize that his answer was
right. What Bill’s death means to me now is, that all of us–all of
us: you, the delegates, the Trustees–will have to listen much more
carefully than we once did in order to make out the voice of the
group conscience.

And I know that this is possible. Bill has trained us for it
beginning in St. Louis in 1955. For this was Bill’s vision — to
create a channel of communication within the Fellowship of Alcoholics
Anonymous that would make it possible for everyone to be hear: from
the individual through the group, to the delegates and to the
Trustees, so that A.A. will always be here to extend a hand to the
drunk who is at this very moment crying out in the darkness of his
night as he reaches for help.

In closing, I want to say that it has been an honor for me to have
had this opportunity to participate with you in giving thanks to God
that Bill lived and was given the wisdom and strength and courage to
make the world a better place for all of us. There are many more
things I could say, but what can one say finally of a man’s goodness
and greatness? How many ways can you take his measure? I cannot do it
or say it for any of you — only for myself. He was the greatest and
wisest man I ever knew. Above everything, he was a man. And I believe
that he left his goodness and greatness and wisdom with us, for any
of us to take in what measure we can. May God grant us the wisdom and
strength to keep Alcoholics Anonymous alive, vital, attractive,
and unencumbered by the egocentricities that can so easily spoil it.

The Twelve Steps.

The Twelve Steps Of A.A.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

More About Alcoholism

More About Alcoholism

Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.

We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.

We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking. We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals – usually brief – were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced to a man that alcoholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better.

We are like men who have lost their legs; they never grow new ones. Neither does there appear to be any kind of treatment which will make alcoholics of our kind like other men. We have tried every imaginable remedy. In some instances there has been brief recovery, followed always by a still worse relapse. Physicians who are familiar with alcoholism agree there is no such thing as making a normal drinker out of an alcoholic. Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasn’t done so yet. “I personally do not think science will ever accomplish this and even if it did I would not take any pills to stop my alcoholism problems. Frankly, I love my meetings and the people in them. If I just took a pill or patch or whatever, than I would not go to meetings and seclude myself again”.

There Is A Solution

The distinguished American psychologist, William James, in his book” Varieties of Religious Experience, “indicates a multitude of ways in which men have discovered God. We have no desire to convince anyone that there is only one way by which faith can be acquired. If what we have learned and felt and seen means anything at all, it means that all of us, whatever our race, creed, or color are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try. Those having religious affiliations will find here nothing disturbing to their beliefs or ceremonies. There is no friction among us over such matters.

We think it no concern of ours what religious bodies our members identify themselves with as individuals. This should be an entirely personal affair which each one decides for himself in the light of past associations, or his present choice. Not all of us join religious bodies, but most of us favor such memberships.

In the following chapter, there appears an explanation of alcoholism, as we understand it, then a chapter addressed to the agnostic. Many who once were in this class are now among our members. Surprisingly enough, we find such convictions no great obstacle to a spiritual experience.

Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered. These are followed by forty-three personal experiences. Each individual, in the personal stories, describes in his own language and from his own point of view the way he established his relationship with God. These give a fair cross section of our membership and a clear-cut idea of what has actually happened in their lives.

We hope no one will consider these self-revealing accounts in bad taste. Our hope is that many alcoholic men and women, desperately in need, will see these pages, and we believe that it is only by fully disclosing ourselves and our problems that they will be persuaded to say, “Yes, I am one of them too; I must have this thing.”