Recently, at an A.A. meeting, I introduced myself and qualified by saying the following:
“My name is Cameron F. and I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I say I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous because I believe there is an important difference between being an alcoholic and being a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
As an alcoholic, I could not stop drinking. Even when my doctor diagnosed me with liver disease, I could not stop drinking. I admitted my drinking was injurious, yet I knew, as right as the sun would rise tomorrow, I would drink again. I can’t stop drinking. This is the horror and hopelessness of being an alcoholic. Yet, here I am, as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, many years sober! How is this possible if I be an alcoholic and everything in my experience tells me I will drink again?
Well, I found a way out. By working the Twelve Step program as described in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and living in the disciplines of Steps 10, 11, and 12 everyday, I am able to remain, almost effortlessly, abstinent from alcohol and all mind-altering substances! I have had many spiritual experiences due to the Twelve Step program and I now know how to live without alcohol. The obsession to drink has been removed. My progressive alcoholic illness has been arrested. My alcoholic disease has been put into remission. I have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.”
This of course is not your typical A.A. introduction. In fact, I was interrupted by the chairperson of the meeting and was told quite curtly, “we have no time for this kind of sharing” and promptly asked someone else to share.
“Hi, my name is…and I’m an alcoholic”.
“Hi, my name is… and I’m an alcoholic” is of course the more traditional way of introducing oneself at a meeting. However, I have never been comfortable with this approach. The language of this approach is negative– it reinforces the problem rather than the solution.
A description of what an alcoholic is can be found on page 44 of our Big Book which states:
“If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic.”
An alcoholic is someone who cannot stop drinking, no matter what they do. They are beyond human aid — they are hopeless — powerless to stop.
How did the early members of A.A. introduce themselves when gathered together?
If you listen to recordings of the original A.A. pioneers, none of them identify themselves in this manner. If you listen to recordings of Bill W. and Dr.. Bob, you will hear that they never used this approach to introducing themselves.
If you search the A.A. Grapevine archives online, the earliest reference of member identification is: September 1944, Vol. 1 No. 4, entitled “Points of View”.
“Dear Grapevine: Today I received my first copy of Grapevine, and have just enjoyed reading it through. I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous–Quincy group.” – George L., Quincy, Massachusetts
This is the approach that our Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous suggests.
In the Forward to the First Edition of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, it defines an A.A. member as:
“WE, OF Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.”
“When writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, we urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal name, designating himself instead as “a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.” (p.. xiii, A.A. 4th Ed.
“The only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking”. (p.. xiv, A.A. 4th Ed.)
This was the unique distinction that gave A.A. such an overwhelming notoriety — seemingly hopeless alcoholics who could not stop drinking were recovered as a result of A.A.’s simple program.
The tradition of identifying oneself at a meeting as an alcoholic is referenced in an early article from the A.A. Grapevine, March 1948, Vol. 4 No. 10, entitled, “Bottoms Up!”
“A friend who has had quite a bit of speaking experience in A.A. recently ran into an amusing situation because of the same A.A. speaking habits. He was attending a business convention of all the important bigwigs of his firm and was unexpectedly called upon to address the convention. Unprepared but unflustered, he stood up and spontaneously said, “My name is Joe Doakes and I am an alcoholic!” — A.P.
This humorous note would seem to infer that the tradition of introducing yourself as an alcoholic started early in A.A.’s history. Are there any old-timers out there that know the answer as to why members switched from introducing themselves as “a member of Alcoholics Anonymous” to “I am an alcoholic”?
Perhaps, it was hard in those early days for someone to admit they were an alcoholic. After-all the Big Book devotes the first 43 pages to the subject of Step One. Maybe it was helpful in those early days to hear A.A. members declare themselves as alcoholics in the meetings, thereby creating a safe environment for the newcomer to declare their Step One.
Today, I do not think there much stigma attached nor resistance to announcing yourself as an alcoholic. In fact, in some societal circles such as Hollywood and the music industry that it is the trendy thing to do. From a marketing standpoint, the artists spin doctors certainly seem to exploit it to garner publicity. Remember Mel Gibson, Amy Winehouse, just to mention a few celebrity types?
Lately, I have been introducing myself as an “intelligent agent — a spearhead of God’s ever advancing creation” but that’s another article.
How do you introduce yourself at meetings? As a “Member of Alcoholics Anonymous”? As a “Recovered Alcoholic”? As a “Recovering Alcoholic”?
55 thoughts on “When at a A.A. meeting, how do you introduce yourself?”
The earliest AAs quite clearly believed they were CURED. Bill W., Dr. Bob, and Bill D. all stated they were cured. Then, when Bill put his program in writing, his emphasis shifted to “recovered” in part because he shifted from his own statement on page 191 and decided to say, per Richard Peabody, that we are not cured. What do I say? When I am in an unfamiliar group, I may do as the Romans do and say, “I’m Dick, and I’m an alcoholic.” But when I speak at conferences, seminars, audios, and radio (as I often do), I usually say: I am Dick B., and I am an active recovered member of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. And, by all standards, I am. But I have little doubt that God cured early AAs; He cured me; and those who dispute it either don’t believe in the power of God and the truth of the Bible. Or, as is more likely, they really don’t know and haven’t yet heard or studied their own history—including the original statements of the first three. Quite simply, these three gents all turned to God for help and were cured—when there were no Steps, no Traditions, no drunk-a-logs, and no “meetings” as we now know them. Aloha, Dick
EXACTLY WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR BROTHER!! THANK YOU!!
Connecticut/Friend of Bill’s as of 07/11/2011
When I introduce myself at a meeting I simply say: "My name is Jim–and I’m an alcoholic." But when I introduce myself as a speaker, I call myself a "recovered alcoholic." The difference being, that when I’m speaking I can then readily clarify my position, and lest I forget, it leads me straight to an opportunity to express my gratitude for how God and the principles of AA have brought me from an extremely hopeless state to a place of reasonable comfort and peace.
There is a difference between “studying” and looking for supporting ideas. When Cameron found those Big Book quotes that seem to support his position I am sure he felt he struck gold. Only the first does anything to further the idea of introducing oneself as a member, rather than as an alcoholic.
The second is out of context because the context is “speaking publically” as in on TV or radio, or to a non A.A. crowd. The third quote is a tradition and I have no idea how it even supports the idea of the article.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the article and agree with the premise. I just feel he weakens the credibility of the piece with those quotes. Much in the same way Dick has no credibility with me when he asserts that the Bible is true, should be used in AA, and if it were we would have people being cured again like the early timers.
Again, I am sure Dick has more time-in studying AA history than I, but is it “studying” or is it looking for evidence to support his preconceived notion. I am equally guilty of doing this, so don’t think I am just pointing fingers. I don’t believe the Bible is “the truth” but I know I am recovered from alcoholism because of the power I found in the Twelve Steps. The early AA’s realized that their cure was more like a remission when they had some relapses – sometimes because they didn’t fully submit themselves, sometimes because the stopped practicing the Steps and sometimes for no explainable reason. A cure, it was not.
Indeed I turned my life over to an idea of God, took the prescribed Steps of the program and I am now free of the desire to drink. I have recovered.
When at a meeting “I am an alcoholic, my home group is Thursday Night Study Group, and my name is Brian.” When asked to speak I am learning to use my full name.
I want people to hear what I have to say, and I find that other introductions raise people’s prejudice. I don’t go to A.A. to be right. I go to help other alcoholics because my recovery depends on it. If I am there to impose my view on the Group then I should stay home because that is not an appropriate reason to go to a meeting.
Take it from someone who witnessed AA change from a weak and watered down group therapy to a vibrant, god loving, awe inspiring program of “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps we carried this message…” This was not accomplished by arguing with the people who “were doing it wrong” but by just helping the next alcoholic. How? By sharing with them and gaining their trust. By looking like just another member, but delivering a powerful A.A. message straight out of the book as a sponsor. Then he told two friends, and so on, and so on…
I was taught that membership in A.A. is at the group level. So saying my home group is where I declare my membership. The AA Group is a marvelous thing. If you really want to be a member of A.A. then join a group. Otherwise you are a spectator – not a member.
‘I Am an Alcoholic.’ Who Said it First?
Who was the first to start a meeting or a qualification with the statement, "I am an alcoholic"? How did the worldwide custom begin? As late co-founder Bill W. used to observe, "Nobody invented A.A., it just grew." And so probably did its classic introduction at meetings. "Many members ask us these questions," says a G.S.O. staff member. "Unfortunately, only a few of the early timers are left, and not many of them are able to provide plausible theories. So we can only speculate."
According to an early friend of A.A., the late Henrietta Seiberling, the expression dates back to meetings of A.A.’s forerunner, the Oxford Group Movement, which had its heyday in the early 1930s. Mrs. Seiberling, a nonalcoholic who had sought spiritual help in the Oxford Group meetings, introduced Bill to A.A.’s other founder, Dr. Bob, then struggling to get sober in the Oxford Group.
At small meetings, the members knew one another and didn’t need to identify themselves. But in the large, "public" meetings, where there was "witnessing" along the lines of an A.A. talk today, personal identification became necessary. Chances are that someone at some time said, "I am an alcoholic," but Mrs. Seiberling wasn’t sure. Nor did she remember that the phrase was used at early A.A. meetings in Akron, before publication of the Big Book. In fact, she said, the word "alcoholic" was rarely uttered, at least in Akron. People referred to themselves as "drunks" or "rum hounds" or "boozers" or other choice epithets reminiscent of the Temperance Movement that gained adherents during Prohibition. An early New York A.A. first heard the expression as "I am an alcoholic and my name is …." According to his recollection, that was after World War II, in 1945 or 1946. And it is a matter of record that, in 1947, a documentary film entitled, I Am an Alcoholic, was produced by RKO Pathe.
From then on, as Bill might say, the custom "just grew."
Box 4-5-9, October/November 2007
Today in AA History
1936: Bill & Lois Wilson visited Fitz Mayo, “Our Southern Friend,” in Maryland.
1941: Sybil C.’s sobriety date. She was the first woman to enter AA west of the Mississippi.
<> Compiled by Nancy O. founder of AA History Lovers–Sources: “Alcoholics Anonymous”, “Pass It On”, “Bill W.” by Francis Hartigan, “History of AA in Maryland” from the website of the Best Baltimore AA Group, private communications from Lee C.
Here is a talk she gave at the Kentucky State Convention in 1985 https://tinyurl.com/ymysvwe9
Images: Fitz Mayo and Sybil
I have been approached from several members of AA on this subject before. After some research I have found that the current accepted way of introducing yourself at a meeting is the way each particular meeting handles their introductions. However I read somewhere in a publication written by Bill W. or Dr. Bob that your introduction should be "Hi I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, or Hi I am Jerry C. a member of Alcoholics Anonymous." It is a shame that such a trivial matter had to stop you from sharing something that may have helped someone still suffering.
I will find out where I read this information and post it back here.
I attended a AA MEETING WHERE THEY SAID THEIR LAST NAME DURING INTRODUCTIONS. Clancy Clan AA I WAS TOLD FIRST NAME ONLY ALSO THAT I am alcoholic.
What is the correct way according to AA BIG BOOK AND TRADITION? IS IT IN THE BIG BOOK TO SAY YOUR LAST NAME OR IS IT PRINCIPLES BEFORE PERSONALITIES?
Where I attend meetings, there are many other types of addicts that also attend. Since each group is autonomous, even some closed meetings accept addicts…other than alcohol addicts, to attend and participate. I can say my name is Richard and I am an Alcoholic, or I might say My name is Richard and I am an addict (gassssp!)
When I say My name is Richard and I am a member of Alcoholics anonymous, then I am not only defining my disease But I am also acknowledging AAs singleness of purpose. I like the introduction to 1st ed format..it is more positive,but I will also respect other groups traditions….unless I just don’t feel like it.
I have a question…I go to a meeting with a few addicts…they introduce themselves as addicts…there is a gentleman there that is very persistent on running the addicts out because they do not introduce themselves and include the “I have a desire to stop drinking… this gentleman read a letter from a GSO from our area that stated we should not allow addicts into closed meetings…but also suggested that it be a “group decision” to change the meeting to an open meeting…this has presented much termoil in our meeting…the addicts come to our AA meeting because in AA we talk about recovery not just about our drinking and in the NA meetings they go to they only talk about using drugs…these people are very persistent about getting better and are running their own programs of recovery…should we allow these addicts to be kicked out of the meeting because of one person?…
It really is a group conscience decision. The meetings I have started are all open meetings and we get not only alcoholics and drug addicts, we get food addicts, gamblers, sex and love addicts, self-harmers, codependents — all seeking the same big book solution to our troubles.
P.S. It’s only the first half of Step One that differentiates what the problem is, but the rest of the program is the same for everyone — a connection with a higher power, a spiritual awakening capable of separating the alcoholic/addict from their merciless obsession to drink, use or act out.
P.P.S. I am an alcoholic/addict and identify as such, but I have helped others such food, sex, gambling, codependency, and others to achieving recovery using the Big Book instructions for recovery from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.
Shane f member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Get a copy of bill Wilsons recording on singleness of purpose it will answer the question. But the ex-addict probably won’t want to Id like that they may want to hold tightly to the first step like a lot of ex- problem drinkers
Hello and thank you for such a great discussion. I am thankful for its start up. “The only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking.” This is taken directly from the Big Book. I state this due to a response you received in 2010 by Brian H., in which he states toward the end that membership is at the group level, and to be a member one must have a homegroup.
Anyone who has an honest desire to stop drinking may declare themselves a member of AA. And, I believe that identifying yourself as a member of Alcoholic’s Anonymous is so much better then constantly beating yourself up over self-critical expressions.
Thank you once again.
My name is John-Richard, and I am a member of Alcoholic’s Anonymous. If I am blessed enough, to make it one more day, then I will celebrate 4 Years of Sober Living tomorrow.
P.S. A Message for Angie
While in the midst of my using (initially crystal and acid), later alcohol, I lived in a world where I judged everyone else constantly. AA, and my sponsor, taught me that, “It is not all about me”, and that the best thing I could do was stay out of my own way, and stop trying to live lives for others. This has been an important lesson for me.
In Palm Desert, CA, where I first got sober, chemical dependency was acknowledged at meetings equally. Some sponsors said, “When attending an AA meeting, identify your addiction to Alcohol, and when you attend an NA meeting, identify your addiction to drugs. But, they are all drugs, and this allergy kills either way.
But, in San Diego, I have learned that some are still working on their “stinking thinking” and that includes their need to live in exclusivity. If a meeting becomes too uncomfortable, find another meeting and take a few of your friends with you to check it out. Not every meeting is a good fit for everyone. However, if it is a small number of people who belittle, then you can choose to work your program, and perhaps not select them as sponsors, or you can seek a group conscious to discuss the situation and create change.
Remember why each of these folks came to your specific 12-Step group. As a group of old timers keep saying, and I partially quoted above, “I came here for my drinking, but stayed for my thinking.” I need a gentle but firm push sometimes to get my thinking back on track.
Be kind to yourself, and keep working your program…
John-Richard, Member of Alcoholic’s Anonymous
In my homegroup we are facing a dilemma.
Almost all of us introduce ourselves as alcoholics.
There are some that say “addicts”.
Others say “alcoholic and drug addict”
And I’ve even heard “hi, my name is—and I am still an alcoholic”.
This latter introduction caused reactions.
Who decides how we introduce ourselves ?
Our group’s conscience?
can anyone introduce oneself however they like?
For instance, can someone come and say “My name is……. and I am NOT an alcoholic” ??
I could say that I’m an alcoholic and an addict, but that would be like the Geico Gecko saying he’s a lizard and a reptile. If you’re an alcoholic, you ARE an addict already. The catch is that AA focuses on just one particular kind of drug addiction, the one commonly called alcoholism, rather than all kinds of addictions, and that’s fine. Because of this single purpose, and because only members are invited to participate in meetings, one should be prepared to indicate in some way that one is a member of AA before taking the floor. Non-members should attend open meetings only and be polite, quiet observers.
Your questions says “who decides how we introduce ourselves? In a way, the answer is found within your question. No one individual decides how others in the group introduce themselves.
It is an individual decision. My strong suggestion is to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Many of the responses here, only in my viewpoint, seem to be interested in either complicating the matter (actually some people get a kick out of causing commotion) but that’s a different issue, or some seem to have a sincere desire to be right and show you how you are wrong. For me, I’ll keep it simple. 30 yrs sober.
This is a very helpful article. I love to go to open AA meetings, since I’m in recovery from bondage-of/identification-as self. And the Presence is very strong and nourishing at meetings.
But I feel “out-group” if I introduce myself as a visitor, since I’m usually the only one. Any suggestions, besides arriving late? Thank you.
How about just introducing yourself as a “member” of A.A.
I introduce myself at a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous as: Im Jennifer, grateful to be at a meeting and alive and sober, by God’s grace.” I do not say I am alcoholic, as God must have first place, as it says in the BB on page 59 “There is one who has all Power, that was is God …” and page 53, “… God either is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn’t.” So I do not give “my alcoholism” power over God, by saying as such.
I absolutely love this, your comment has been very helpful. It almost made me cry!
I am a sober alcoholic.How should I identify at an AA meeting? The first ingredient of AA is one alcoholic talking to another.
Our stories are for identification, for other alcoholics especially new comers.
I simply do not understand why a handful of addicts believe it should be their right to throw out the spirituality of one alcoholic talking to another.
The book “Alcoholics Anonymous” is not a MENU. Unfortunately taking the book Alcoholics Anonymous and dissecting for other illness’ is folly.
A look at the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous clarifies why I go to AA meeting.
Early 1930s a Renowned Psychiatrist Carl Yung had diagnosed that there was mo cure for alcoholics of Bill’s type (my type) and that Bill would have to be locked-up, die or go mad. Carl Yung was asked if there was ever an exception? His reply: “On rare occasions the alcoholic has a life changing spiritual and psychic change”.
Around this time Bill W’s good friend (and life long sponsor) Ebby T visited Bill in the final throws of Bills drinking. Ebby was a hopeless drunk, but to Bill’s surprise Ebby was sober. well dressed and Upbeat. When Bill asked Ebby what had changed? He replied “I have found religion.”
Bill start attending the Christian “Oxford Group” with Ebby The Oxford Group where big on carrying the Christian Message.(one sick person talking to another).
Bill hadn’t stop drinking and was soon hospitalized for alcohol detoxification where he had his spiritual experience. Bill never drank again.
Armed with the knowledge from Carl Jung, Ebby’s sobriety with the Christian “Oxford Group” of carrying the message to others and his own spiritual experience Bill began his quest to save others from Alcoholism.
For the next six months Bill tried to brow beat his prospects with the religious salvation and failed. It was only when he told his story (drunk-alog)to Dr Bob that the first conversion happen.
The critical points;
At Bill’s first meeting with Dr Bob, Dr Bob claimed that Bill was the first person that had spoken his language.
One alcoholic talking to another.
As an alcoholic member of Alcoholics Anonymous I only find a limited number of other alcoholics that I have strong identification with.
I simply don’t see why an addict would want to go to an AA meeting let alone identify as different. Come along to AA and Identify as having a desire to not drink or be wise and go to NA meeting.
This post is so typical of rigid, narrow-minded A.A. thinking. That the alcoholic is so different… so unique that he can only identify with another alcoholic. Most A.A. members fail to understand alcohol is just another substance, another drug that alters the mind and body of a human being. Furthermore, identification one addict with another is quite possible and I have personally done so with hundreds of alcoholics, drug addicts, sex addicts, hoarders, codependents, food addicts, gamblers and the list goes on. Most people people in the fellowship try to identify through their war stories of prostitution, jails, living on the streets, etc. But those things don’t necessarily make for an addict or alcoholic. Just because your boss thinks you have a drinking problem because you wore a lampshade on your head at the office party doesn’t make you an alcoholic — Nor does it make you a lamp!. Even among alcoholics who try to identify that way, high bottoms often disconnect because that is not their experience. Here’s a simple way to win the entire confidence of any kind of addicts… Talk about the lack of control… all the fail strategies to stop drinking or using or acting out — will power, being sick, falling love, change of environment, warning of a doctor, and the list goes on. That’s powerlessness and the first part of Step One. The second part of Step One is unmanageability. Here we talk about all the things we lost due to our addiction — both internally and externally — peace of mind, self-respect, confidence, consciousness, jobs, friends, money, etc. All addicts whether they consume alcohol, drugs, or act out all experience the same powerlessness and all lose the same things, pursuing their affliction to the gates of insanity or death and those are the big losers. The take home note: The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, our basic recovery text, when substituting terms and phrases related to alcoholism to include all mind altering substances and acting out addictions, works like a recovery recipe for any and all addictions.
I believe the one who visited Dr. Jung was Rowland, not Bill W.
-just another bozo on the bus (of recovery)
Having seen your REACTION I will share my drug problem. I went through drug and alcohol detoxification at a Detox facility in 2002.I was 50 yrs old and had 16 years of continual use.
For me detoxing from drugs was horrific. the withdrawals where intense for at least three years, I couldn’t function and spent about a year curled up on the floor.As bad as it was I have never taken another un-prescribed drug.
Alcohol withdrawal is a walk in the park when compared to drug withdrawal. However I couldn’t kick the need to drink alcohol.It took another 18 months of regular AA meetings and misery as an active alcoholic before by the grace of God the obsession was removed. I have not taken a drink since.
The greatest barrier to recovery for the alcoholic and the addict is DENIAL, and I had it in spades as an active alcoholic.
When I got sober I had a serious look at my primary problem and concluded that it was alcoholism. I dropped the alcoholic / addict identification and simply work on my alcoholism at AA.
I have a friend that is 27 years clean in NA. He believes that drug addicts avoid NA because they can’t get honest. “You can’t con Con.” An addict that denies NA recovery and hides in AA is still in denial.
The addict not only denies His or Her malady but insists Alcoholics Anonymous change their entire text to suit their denial.
NA text says, (when attending an AA meeting) when in Rome!!!!!. Show some respect and clean your own side of the street. To be pissed off with AA is living in the disease.
As I have said before the book ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS is NOT a menu or a tour guide.
All are welcome at open AA meetings to listen to “how it was, what happened and how it is today.
IDENTIFICATION OF ONE ALCOHOLIC TALKING TO ANOTHER.
When you argue for your limitations, congratulations you get to keep them. Keep up the good works that you’re doing in A.A. I and many like myself, will continue using the Big Book as a recovery text for any and all addictions and continue to assist the suffering addict who is looking for spiritual solution to what ails them.
The twelve steps of AA are the original steps from which the other 12 step recovery groups model their program. While I have not experienced withdrawal from anything other than alcohol, I can help others address the causes and conditions which led to the addiction using the twelve steps. I think it is a personal decision whether or not one chooses to work with someone who’s drug of choice is not alcohol. The chapter on tradition three in the 12×12 addresses two specific circumstances regarding a decision to turn some one away. In one, the first was cross addicted. The second is one where the person was an atheist. Group conscious, not the GSA, should determine how the group responds to individuals who do not identify alcohol as their primary addiction. Also no where in the short or long form of T3 does it say a person has to call themselves an alcoholic to be included in a meeting.
There are two, and ONLY two drugs that can kill you from withdrawal. Do you know what they are? I wouldn’t be so quick to summarize alcohol withdrawal as a walk in the park.
I am sensing some terminal uniqueness, Mr. Ross M.
I am an alcoholic. I don’t want to identify as being different by inventing a “new creative way to introduce myself” I don’t want to change anything about AA. Leave it.
Why change what has worked for years, my name is.. And i am an alcoholic!! It works just lately I hear and “I am recovered” really???? If we all state we are recovered then why continue we’ve done it! I steer clear of these ego maniacs who believe they are far superior as they have the solution, many alcoholics have issues with other addictions drugs gambling ect ect and many work a programme where step 1 is used to address the other addictions, many also use other 12 step fellowships to address that addiction, as for NA being in denial “alcohol is a drug” it’s mood altering and is classed the same as using. Unity people! We came to the meetings because we were bang in trouble, we sat and listened to those with experience who shared their experience whatever that was we all have our own story. Our own guilt and shame, stop diluting a clear message that has worked all that’s ever required is a desire to stop drinking THATS IT ! I’ve even gone in a meeting and heard a sec say we share the solution here, the message not the mess!! It infuriates me as by not sharing that do called mess can cause relapse, your also telling people to be dishonest!! I need to hear how you cope clean and sober with life on life’s terms regardless of how it sounds as then I realise I’m not nuts and I’m in the right place! If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!! Let people be & maybe address your intolerance around others!!!
Your rancor reminds me of the untreated, dry drunk. You’re hearing “recovered” more in the rooms, because many A.A.s who are suffering much like you, with your status quo A.A. watered-down, treatment center rhetoric of being an alcoholic who wants to to identify with the problem rather than the solution is typical in a lot of meetings. Those meeting usually have less than 10% recovery rates, in fact you’re better off trying to recover on your own power rather than go to those “Oprah whine-fests” where everyone just jerks off about their bad day — no solution is presented and by the end of the meeting I’m a psychological causality of the meeting where there is no message of experience, strength or hope, and I know need another meeting to fix the bloody meeting I just attended. Sheesh! When are you guys ever going to learn, read your Big Book and get on with it.
I think you should re read what you just posted. Just because someone introduces themselves without saying they’re an alcoholic doesn’t mean they are in denial. That is an assumption not fact. I do understand that when people introduce themselves saying, “Hi my name is… and I’m an alcoholic” can make new comers comfortable with acknowledging their struggles and such but at the same time it can condition the person to think that they are less of a person and they aren’t worthy enough and maybe make some feel like the belong on the land of broken toys. My personal belief on the introduction enforces the person to believe they are a defect because of their struggles. I always say “a kitchen sink to you is not a kitchen sink to me.”
I prefer the phrase “recovering from alcohol addiction”
It’s not absolute but certainly much more positive and forward thinking than the old “I’m an alcoholic”!
Read the Big Book, I don’t personally identify as recovered… but how many times does it SAY RECOVERED!!!
Heck, just flip 3 pages in where it has Alcoholics Anonymous in BIG bold letters and below the line it it states, word for word, “The story of how many thousands of men and woman HAVE RECOVERED FROM ALCOHOLISM
I feel like people these days are so concerned with A.A. being EXCLUSIVE rather than INCLUSIVE. It makes me sad for those groups. I can’t imagine being a newcomer and going to an “exclusive” group and being lambasted for identifying as having the “wrong addiction”. I probably wouldn’t ever come back, and, more than likely, would be dead on the street. Sad.
It has long been crucial to the financial interests of the commercial recovery industry that alcohol be reclassified as a “drug” and the mental and physical expression of the Syndrome, “Alcoholism” be misclassified as a “Disease.”
In the commercial realm, alcoholism must be monetized and the “Disease” model contains the narrative necessary. They are after all, in the “disease and drug business” and have been schooled in identifying and treating pathologies of disease. It’s their training; their very livelihood. It is a classic case of the old adage, “When all you got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
Yet, the disease model description is tragically flawed. The pharmacodynamics just aren’t there and the biochemistry betrays the theory handily.
Oh sure, EtOH (Ethanol) is a “drug” in a rhetorical sense, much like “love” is a drug, or crocheting can be an addictive “drug.” Chemically however EtOH it is not a drug, it is carbohydrate – a food, just like Glc, Fuc, and GlcN – (All sugars.)
Your body will recognize and metabolize alcohol for its energy value – releasing calories.
Even basic High School level chemistry unmistakably reveals that the substance “Alcohol” is a food. With even minimal understanding one can also clearly see that “Alcoholism” is not itself a disease but a Syndrome – a set of symptoms (Combining mental disorder with bodily injury causing metabolic malfunctioning) is a result—a socially disruptive effect indicative of its actual origin: Spiritual Disease.
Since the secularists of medicine are not trained or qualified to treat Spiritual Disease, the cause of the symptoms, IE. “Alcoholism” and “Drug Addiction” must remain concealed to the public, if they are to maintain control of the business aspect of alcoholism.
Material “treatments” of symptoms, like counseling, talking cures, pharmaceuticals etc. are “sold,” while ignoring the metaphysical, “spiritual,” base cause.
Matters emanating out of the humanly mystical – Good and Evil, Heaven and Hell, God and Satan, Angels and Demons are not directly identifiable through scientific method and yet each of these things has direct spiritual links to all human obsessions. These obsessions include the insane drinking that the AA’s Big Book narrates refers to as, their “description of the Alcoholic”.
And so the pathology of the real disease (Spiritual) is beyond the classic clinically trained “Pro.” Really they are quite amateur and remain in the Stone Ages behind AA in helping alcoholics recover.
Unfortunately, this commercial incapacity to scientifically classify and treat Spiritual Disease also compels clinicians to use their academic “credentials” to pull the wool over so many people to the point where the otherworldly origin of spiritual disease is now largely ignored, even denied.
It is unconscionable lying and leads many to their deaths—if not alcoholic deaths then emotionally induced conditions, IE. Heart Disease, Cancer etc – with certain misery on that journey downward.
Any philosophy or discipline that teaches that alcoholism is a disease, that alcohol is a drug, that there is no such thing as spiritual disease is contrary to the Big Book description and leads many to certain misery.
Yet such “commercialized” thinking runs all through 12 step fellowships, often posing as AA “recovery” it is not. The healing of spiritual disease is not a long drawn out process. It is much more of a victorious event than an ongoing battle. Victory happens in the moment of spiritual awakening. Not a second before. The Twelve Steps are designed to deliver a means to that victorious moment.
“The Twelve Steps is a series of proposals that when acted upon, precisely as prescribed, in the order prescribed, are found to actuate a spontaneous spiritual awakening. It’s an experience that sets off a sequencing of effortless answers to all of life’s problems. For the alcoholic, the first of these being the dissolution of obsessive drinking.
Once this awakening occurs the practitioner never drinks again provided he live by certain spiritual principles codified in the Steps, each one vital to ongoing permanent sobriety and spiritual soundness. Practitioners who continue on with the precise spiritual principles conveyed through “Alcoholic Anonymous” become free from anger; life becomes perfectly ordered; emotional ties and personal dependencies upon people, places, things, even upon the Big Book itself, melt away in favor of reliance upon God. It is a useful, peaceful way to live that grows effortlessly.
The cessation of drinking under this spiritual order of human existence is incidental.
This recovery was experienced by a once agnostic and chronic alcoholic named Bill Wilson, who endeavored to replicate in other hopeless alcoholics, what he did to induce this apparent miraculous outcome. After getting a hundred others to successfully follow the same exact path, achieving the exact same result, he numbered and wrote them down. Then in 1938, they published it in a program of recovery under the auspices of a group of recovered, alcoholic co-authors. This launched the wholesale distribution of the procedure they had found.
Their book, titled “Alcoholics Anonymous”, a how-to volume, presents a rapid, effective and permanent recovery plan that works where all other methods fail. It is one of the best-selling books of all time. In 2011, the AA “Big Book” as it is affectionately nicknamed, was pegged by Time magazine as being one of the “100 Best” and most influential books ever written in English. The solution to spiritual disease which causes alcoholism presented through that book is responsible for the release of thousands upon thousands of alcoholics from the clinical mazes of hospitals, rehabs, and treatment centers that exist under the smothering patronage of the 21st Century U.S. Health Care system. No wonder it has sold over thirty million copies.” (from “Real Meditation for Real Alcoholics”)
Not only do the Steps deliver spontaneous awakening, a certain God consciousness, but they also issue the directive imploring the ongoing improvement of that state of grace. It requires meditation.
The Twelve Steps provide a design that is not the one-and-only way to spiritual awakening a and solution to all problems.
After all, folks have been becoming spiritually awakened and recovered from spiritual disease; getting on the path to discovering God long before the birth of AA–but it the Twelve Step design for living is one way that has worked for millions – where other methods, especially when psychology and most religions have failed alcoholics and addicts abysmally.
“spiritual disease which causes alcoholism” needs to be challenged.
The “cause” of is one of those hot topics. It seems to me to be another way to express problems in thinking.
I agree – and I wrote that :) Challenge can be healthy. And to say it goes to a thinking problem is not far off either. Spiritual disease is curable. All it takes is a certain attitude (yes, the mind) where we become aware of our thoughts and separate from conscious awareness. Adopt that unique mindfully awakened state of being and all problems are solved. Improving conscious contact with God by practicing awareness is the only way.
I see changing the wording in Step 1 of the 12 Steps of AA, but I did not see anyone also talk about changing the wording in Step 12 to match. Now if in a meeting of AA we can start changing words at will, what other words can be changed at will?
I am glad people came before me and passed on the 3 Legacies of AA to me, in turn I can pass them on to others.
Guys, take a chill pill! Probably anything that indicates your right to participate in a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous is okay, ok?
I’m afflicted with alcoholic addiction. I’m an ethanol addict, a dipsomaniac, an inveterate boozer; I have a desire to stop drinking, I can’t control and enjoy my drinking, I’m powerless over alcohol. I’m a member, I’m a recovered alcoholic, a recovering alcoholic. Put it however you like and let the rest of us do the same. Live and let live, ya know?
My only problem today is the first drink and the first drink is ALWAYS the problem in AA and that’s why I always need a solution because I always have a finite mind and am always abandoning myself to God as I understand God which means I am always letting go of my old ideas which I have learned through ALL of the 12 steps which connect me to God which is the only defense against my only problem today which is the first drink.
Why is it that every meeting I have attended in the last 2 years, that everyone decides to introduce as follows “Hi, my name is xxxxx, I’m an alcoholic and an addict?” What is this addict nonsense. I thought I was in A.A. not N.A. Where do we draw the line?… Hi my name is Sheldon, I’m an alcoholic, addict, speeder, smoker, gambler, nose picker, hair plucker, name caller, porn watcher, etc., etc., etc…just retarded.
Recently, at an A.A. meeting, I introduced myself and qualified by saying the following: “My name is Bob williams” but I could not bring myself to admit that I just might be an alcoholic too. I was there to provide moral support to friend.
Should I and better yet I continue to come too?
In Alcoholics Anonymous meetings I introduce myself as alcoholic. More than once when I have visited doctors I forget and tell them that I am alcoholic, and they correct me by saying that I am a person with a “History of Alcohol Abuse”, and they were concerned about the stigma that I am putting on myself as I do have grave emotional and mental disorders… Specifically she said how can I still be an alcoholic still as I have not drank for 25 years. I know that we have recovered. I began to question if I am shaming myself while I am suffering from a list of shame based illnesses. I do not mean to throw anybody off, I know that conformity will keep me saying that I am alcoholic daily. I just hope that conformity does not make it so anyone goes back out.
When introducing me I say Hello i’m Brett.
I dont give a shit how or if you introduce yourself.
To Thine Own Self Be True is only acceptable if you have done some work to find your truth and gotten past your ego and self deception. False beliefs nullify your ability to be altruistic.
I am Topher (Last Name), a recovered alcoholic.
It’s important to point out that anonymity is at the level of press, radio, and film. It’s puzzling to me from where all the rules and misinterpretations came???
More importantly, it’s CRITICAL regardless of a group’s customary way of introduction, I always begin with “I am Topher, a RECOVERED ALCOHOLIC!” At this moment, especially when I’m somewhere new, I can forget I’m at an AA meeting, thinking I’m at an open audition for Linda Blair’s role in the Exorcist!
I say ‘recovered’ because the desire to drink alcohol, or use ANY OTHER substance (I never claimed to be a specialist), to make me feel anything other than Topher, was lifted – not just for today – not just one day at a time – not just from the time I woke up until I go to bed. I have turned my will and my life over to the care of God for good and for always; God has removed from me the desire to drink alcohol for good and for always! This is, and will always be, contingent on the maintenance of my spiritual condition.
Besides, I no longer will alter whom I am for the comfort of others. It took me coming to AA and learning to be comfortable in my own skin, that has taught me how to be me!
BTW old timers, the singleness of purpose is not alcohol. It is TO CARRY THE MESSAGE!
Now you may want to sit down for this. The outside issues I reference, e.g., marijuana, cocaine, crystal meth, heroin, acid,…, those did exactly the same thing for me and for exactly the same purpose! In my first six or seven years in AA, I would always introduced myself as an addict alcoholic. That was until the day I realized I was only saying that because I knew it was pissing the old timers off. Since then, I’ve never said it again. I am, though. And I am RECOVERED, from both. It’s amazing how working the Twelve Steps Can have effects on so many other outside issues, like marriage, family, children, work, school, driving,…
So, exactly why is saying “recovered” so critically important to me?
Because the true alcoholic, an alcoholic of my variety, isn’t an alcoholic because we drank too much. No, the true alcoholic drank too much because they suffer from the disease of alcoholism.
I was born with the disease of alcoholism. I didn’t always have a problem with alcohol. It was my thinking! At one time, I had twelve consecutive years of sobriety. I’m serious. I wasn’t white knuckling it… all the time. Really! Okay… then I turned twelve.
The newcomers need to hear that we do RECOVER! We recover from that hopeless state of mind and body! We recover from a feeling of pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We feel a part of, not apart from. We become comfortable in our own skin. We no longer feel useless, but we have been given a purpose. But mostly, we have hope! A new life has been given to us, a design for living that really works!
Sadly, as I read in a reply earlier in this thread, some believe that we must accept things as they are. I cannot disagree more! Acceptance is NOT always the answer! In the Big Book, in the “clear-cut directions” which have been so freely given to us in the first one hundred sixty-four pages, it clearly details where complacency will lead us. If I recall correctly, the previous reply implied that by attempting to implement changes in a group, we will create resentments. I say to that, “SO WHAT!” Stir things up; ruffle some feathers. Let people judge you harshly, critize you, despise you! After all… “every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us.” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page, 90).
“We aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it…
So we think cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness. Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we burst into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. But why shouldn’t we laugh? We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.” (Big Book, page 132)
My name is Garrett, and I am a grateful recovering alcoholic. <—just how I identify
My first sponsor taught me to “respect the rooms I am in” Such as if I’m in A.A. – I identify as an alcoholic. If I’m at an N.A. Meeting – Identify as an Addict. But as it’s been said above, it’s just splitting hairs. It’s all the same – alcohol is a drug.
One thing I love about recovery in my little town (Lubbock, TX) is that the majority (I’ve only seen chairpersons stop meetings because someone identified as an alcoholic in OPEN NA meetings a few times – grrrrr) of A.A. groups in town understand that those precious 12 steps can and will help – ANYTHING. I love how open, welcoming, and solution based A.A. is in this town.
People can introduce themselves as addicts, sex addicts, having an eating disorder – anything! And no one bats an eye. The point is, people are there to get help – (using I statements) Who the heck am I to tell them that they don’t belong when they are not disruptive, and are genuinely begging for a better way of life?
I am also on scholarship through The Center for the Study of Addiction at Texas Tech University. One of the things they have us do when we first come in is watch a documentary about addiction today and the social stigmas that go along with it. It’s only a few years old and I would HIGHLY recommend any/everyone to watch it. Trust me, it’s not a boring put you to sleep flick.
It is called Anonymous People. I don’t personally do it myself, but I applaud the way these real people introduce themselves in meetings, “Hello, my name is ____ and I am a person in long term recovery, and for me, that means I haven’t have a drink or a mind altering substance in ______.”
Maybe it’s just me, but if someone is struggling with identifying as such and such, I think that’s a pretty good alternative!
It’s getting so that splitting hairs has become our primary purpose. Real sobriety comes from working the steps and working with others. After 27 years continuous sobriety, I still go to daily meetings. When things start going off the rails (phones, crosstalk, disruptions), maybe 30-45 minutes after the start, I simply leave, not having the luxury to waste time. That wasted time concept is also in the Book.
Between smart phones and social media, we ought to step out of the anonymity denial which has washed through AA in the last 10 years. Unity, anyone?
My name is Carl, I am an Alcoholic. I am content to introduce myself this way. It is what they did when I got here (apart from they weren’t all called Carl) and it was suggested I did what they did in order to get what they had. I often need to remind myself I committed to go to any lengths to get this. I cringe with some introductions I hear. I believe they can give false hope to a newcomer. Our program will help anyone who wants to understand why they break from the norm on this point. Our book is clear on what we recover from. Keep it simple.
I was a life-long functioning alcoholic. I married an alcoholic. I raised three children, the eldest a recovered alcoholic. I owned a restaurant and bar for twenty years. After years of beating myself up with negative self-talk I made some life changing decisions and left my old world behind and started over again. I spent five years reading, listening, attending, sharing, watching and FINALLY one day the switch flipped and I was DONE. I am now free of the grasp of addiction. I am looking for community and support as I continue to live an alcohol-free life. At the age of 59 it’s a little more challenging finding friends who share this lifestyle. Attending AA meetings is a great way to feel among “family” but I do not want to call myself an alcoholic when I introduce myself. I feel it is disrepectful to the others to not follow protocal and I don’t want to come off as being arrogant. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic? I feel like I don’t fit in yet there is no other community out there (that I have found) that focuses on life after recovery. Any suggestions? Thank you.
How about “I have a desire not to drink”? It is the only requirement for membership in the program! Not whether a person identifies as an alcoholic or not! Just comes from my 30 years of being in AA! MA
This is an interesting post, especially for me right now. I had 15 years of continuous sobriety, regularly attending AA meetings and functions, etc. I walked away from AA and stayed sober another five years, but then became addicted to opioids after they were prescribed for surgery. Two years ago I went through treatment for opioid addiction and I’ve been back attending AA meetings ever since. Sometimes I say, “I’m John, and I’m an alcoholic and addict”, sometimes just “alcoholic,” but lately I’ve rested on “I’m John and I’m an addict”, which to me makes sense, as I realize not only have I been addicted to alcohol and drugs, but also food, and anything that allows me to avoid or escape pain. Just recently, however, an old timer related his discomfort with me calling myself an “addict” and suggested in the Zoom chatbox that we should have a business meeting about it as he saw this as a clear violation of the 5th tradition of AA. No one really responded in the meeting.
Realize, this is my home group, the meeting I first started attending back in 1991, and the one I went back to. It meets M,W,F, which is 50% of my meetings, I became livid and complained to my sponsor, who doesn’t attend those particular meetings. Through the course of working with my sponsor, who, by the way, has no problem with me identifying myself as an addict, I’ve learned a lot. He actually recommended I Google this topic, and ask other old timers what they thought. In the end, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that others are also put off by my identification as an addict. I’ve learned that there is likely something bigger to work on behind my intense anger, perhaps an old resentment toward authority and authority figures. In the end, it’s just a term, a word or words, and if it makes others feel better that I just identify with my alcohol problem in a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, I’m really okay with that. I’m lucky to have a sponsor that encourages me to see beyond what’s right in front of me. Now, to work on my issue with authority and authority figures :-).
I am a member of AA, relapse free for five years-seven months. My introduction, after five years is ” I am a recovering member of Alcoholic Anonymous ” My long term goal, is to become a recovered alcoholic. I firmly believe, if after many years, I am still living sober, no obsession , no compulsion, to drink, than I am planning on introducing myself as a ” Recovered Alcoholic”, just as I read throughout the book ” Alcohol Anonymous”. I have heard this explanation, from long time members, sober for many years. I also observed, these people are frowned upon, for such an introduction. To be true, to one’s self, is all that matters. AA members should, speak as what is best for him/her, not what other AA members may frown about.
Thank You. I am glad to be able to share, what has helped me in my recovery
The only requirement for membership is a desire to quit drinking.
How you introduce yourself is your own preference really. As long as you want to quit your in. Even if you have never had a drink you qualify because you have no desire to drink.