TheRealEdition Preface: Great opinion piece, but highly controversial, if you’d like to discuss, please do so by clicking here.
Alcoholics Anonymous’ primary purpose is to help the still suffering alcoholic. This means that when we share at a meeting we identify ourselves as an alcoholic and share on alcohol related issues only. For some reason this tradition causes some people to be offended, go into their own little conniption and/or cause a whole big scene where one is not needed.
Alcoholics Anonymous was formed so that people suffering from the disease of alcoholism could find a way to recover. The newcomer is the most important person at any meeting of AA (or at any other fellowship for that matter). If a newcomer walks into a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and hears someone state that he is an addict and/or hear someone start sharing about their extensive drug use that newcomer may think he is in the wrong place and walk out. This simple misunderstanding could lead to that newcomer’s death. For alcoholism, as any addiction, is a fatal disease.
I’m both an alcoholic and addict. When I talk to someone one-on-one I often share that I was a rye swilling, carpet crawling, alcoholic crack addict. However, I found my recovery in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and the least I can do is show the Fellowship respect by honouring the primary purpose. That is why when I share at a meeting I identify myself as an alcoholic not an alcoholic/addict. When I share my story I talk about alcohol and although drugs are a part of my story I merely state that I drank alcohol and was involved in outside issues. The farthest I go in mentioning my drug use is to say I snorted some white powder which allowed me to drink even more and longer than usual. What I don’t’ say is, drugs are a part of my story and it’s an honest program so I’m going to break the primary purpose and talk about them. To me that would be reverting back to my character defect of manipulation. I fully understand that there are a lot of dually addicted people in AA and for that reason I’m happy to discuss alcohol and drugs on a one-on-one basis after the meeting is complete.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not one of those guys who think if a newcomer comes to a meeting and says they are an addict that they should be told to go. That newcomer is unaware of this primary purpose so, to me, they are allowed to make this faux pas. It’s the people who’ve been around the rooms for a long time and go out of their way to break the primary purpose who really rankle me. I’ve seen a guy stand up at the front of the room and state he’s an addict and won’t let narrow minded people bully him into not identifying as one. It seemed to me that he was the one bully the rest of the Fellowship so that he could have his own way. I seem to remember that part of my disease always wanting my own way – lack of power that is our dilemma. By trying to guilt and/or bully people into allowing you to break the primary purpose you are succumbing to the spiritual malady of this disease.
If it’s so important to you to identify as an addict then there are lots of other Fellowship out there you can do that in. Hell, I attend a regular CA meeting where I proudly state that I’m a recovered alcoholic/addict. I do that as that is CA’s (at least the one in my area) custom and I have no desire to show CA any disrespect. Just as I wish no disrespect on Alcoholics Anonymous which introduced the 12 Step Program to the world (adopted by over 200 other fellowships) and which not only helped me put my disease into remission but provided me with a whole new outlook and perception on life.