Monday, December 13, 2010

Tradition 3 - Indianapolis Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for Athiests and Agnostics

Tradition Three

When AA first burst onto the scene, it was heralded by many to be the "cure to end all cures". It's difficult to get hard statistics, but in the first 20 years of AA, recovery rates were quoted to be at 70%-80%. In the 1960s and 70s, it had declined to somewhere around 60%. Now, it's said to be 10% or less, and several studies put it at less than 5%.

I'm far from a statistician, I'm only a simple man who has found recovery. What I'm about to say is my opinion, and my opinion only, and does not reflect the opinion of any group or AA itself.

I think our decline in recovery, in part, might be due to our neglect of Tradition 3: "The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking". Notice that nothing is said in Tradition 3 about how to believe, how to act, how to think...a simple desire to stop drinking is enough.

In my years of experience in AA, I've seen the same pattern repeat itself over and over. A newcomer comes in, is warmly welcomed, and sees hope for a life of sobriety and peace, the ability to live happy, joyous, and free without alcohol.

After a few weeks or months, the newcomer becomes disillusioned, because we often say "The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking", but our actions are quite different. We (and, in the past, I have, sadly, been quilty of this) tell the newcomer that he/she has to believe this way or that way, act this way or that effect, the opposite of what Tradition 3 states. And, the newcomer becomes frustrated, pulls away, and ends up drinking again, because they feel they are not a member of AA because they don't hold to the religious parts of AA.

My life is filled with men and women who have found long term, contented sobriety who are either atheist or agnostic. They have a sincere desire to to stop drinking and are, therefore, a member of AA. No one can tell them...or you....otherwise.

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