Sunday, 18 January 2015

The good old days

'At that time the group in New York was composed of about twelve men who were working on the principle of every drunk for himself; we had no real formula and no name. We would follow one man's ideas for a while, decide he was wrong and switch to another's method.'
Alcoholics Anonymous, page 227

Sometimes it is asserted that AA is all but washed up, because of a watered-down programme, confused ideas, and deviation from the ways of the past, when things were clear and simple, and everyone got and stayed sober.

There is some truth to this assertion: there is certainly a lot of confusion in AA and a plethora of ideas, some of which, when implemented, are effective, and some of which are not.

The myth, however, is that there was every a single 'good old days'. The genesis of the AA programme is a lot more chaotic than many believe, and the original consensus, far more tenuous.

Certainly there were pockets that were very effective, if at least their own statistics are to be believed, and pockets that were much weaker, and where AA took a lot longer to get off the ground and become firmly established.

What seems truer, however, is that AA then was actually much more like AA now: different groups, each following its own current set of ideas, and different outcomes flowing from those differing ideas.

My responsibility is not to try to bring AA in line with some legendary past but to establish what has been most effective for me and to carry that message to others through a home group.

That method happens to have as its core the programme set out in the Big Book but certainly includes large chunks of the Al-Anon programme and seasoning from all sorts of primarily spiritual sources.

There is, however, no orthodoxy, except the false orthodoxy of some contemporary 'Big Bookers' who harken back to a non-existent golden age.

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