When I got sober, the treatment "industry" was relatively new. So, most of the AA members had not been to treatment, they had sobered up on people's couches, drinking lemonade with honey in it. Puking, sweating, shaking... with another alcoholic nearby. Not a physician with a prescription pad. (I realize that some people really do need detox, I am not minimizing that, but most don't). We knew how to do a 12 step call. We stepped into some of the most dangerous places on earth because someone called and said they wanted help.
We used to talk about the "step before the first step." That's the step where you hit your bottom and decide you want to be sober. We really can't do anything for you before then. But don't tell that to all the folks sitting around meetings talking like used car salesmen, trying to convince people that they "don't get to AA by accident," that if they are there, they must have a problem, and how freaking great it is to be sober!! Woo Hoo! And just keep coming back, no matter if you are drunk today, were drunk yesterday, have no desire to get sober, whatever, just keep coming back and we will praise your "courage." Oh yes, it do take guts to raise your hand - BULLSHIT - it takes guts to stay sober, day in and day out.
I don't want to hear someone who just had a drink when things got tough. They love to come in and lecture us on how it can happen to us. Well, yes, I know that, that is why I am sitting in an AA meeting. Perhaps if you had gone to a few you wouldn't be raising your hand.
Courts? Yes, we used to get the occasional person who was court ordered to attend AA. And the wise chair persons would tell them to get their slips signed first, and then they were free to leave. Really. We Do Not Want People Sitting In AA Meetings Who Don't Want To Be There. The courts don't understand what AA is or what it does, and that is fine, that is not their job. They send people there because it seems to work. But it has rarely worked for someone who doesn't want to be there, and it has never worked for someone who doesn't belong there. We as AA members ought to know what AA is and what it does, and we ought to be able to communicate that to people who show up... and yes, they DO get to AA by mistake. One DUI does not an alcoholic make.
A drug is a drug is a drug? Nope. Not so. Read the long form of the 3rd tradition. (its on page 563 of the big book) "Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an AA group..." Alcoholics. It is in the name. It is in our traditions. We used to kindly go outside and talk to people who showed up at closed meetings and identified as something other than an alcoholic.
Recently I told someone that I was shocked (SHOCKED!) that no one from my old group has bothered to call me to see if I am OK since I stopped attending a month ago today. She said that she was shocked (SHOCKED!) that someone who is sober for 24 years needs a phone call. WHAT?
I remember leaving meetings in tears and having some old crusty creep from an AA meeting call me to see if I was OK. I can't count the number of people I have called to see if they were OK. They don't have to be sober any particular length of time. We are supposed to care about each other. We used to. We used to be keenly aware that we are in a life and death struggle. Now it seems that most of the people sitting around AA meetings are there for a social club and cheap entertainment. If you leave they might miss you because you were funny, but the idea of picking up the phone to see if you are OK never pops into a head.
I will be OK. But this is a devastating loss to me. I will keep going to my "other" meeting. I will try to be of service to alcoholics in any way I can, and that will ensure that I will survive. The "other" group is very grateful that I am there.
I will keep talking about AA. I will keep doing what I am supposed to be doing.
Let's try to care for one another today, OK?