Abstinence was Number One. Usually there was hospitalization or at least medical help to save the newcomer's life. At the hospital, the only reading material allowed in the room was the Bible. Recovered Alcoholics Anonymous drunks visited the patient and told their success stories.
Early in its founding years, A.A.’s co-founder Bill Wilson put the torch to the idea that A.A. sprang from just one source. He said frankly that nobody invented A.A. He said all its ideas were borrowed. And Dr. Bob broadened the source picture by pointing out that all the basic ideas came from the Pioneers’ study of the Bible.
In its lawsuit, the S.E.C. noted the “Twelfth Tradition” of A.A., which is the organization’s policy of anonymity that encourages participants to speak freely to one another before, during and after each meeting.
“The confidentiality of information shared between members of the A.A. program is underscored at each meeting, where participants are reminded that ‘what is discussed here stays here,’ ” said the S.E.C. complaint. “Confidentiality is integral to the operation of A.A.”
Therein lies one of my other problems with Alcoholics Anonymous: the anonymous part. What is the good in confiding your weakness for booze to a roomful of people who are sworn not to utter a word of it to the outside world? How does that help when you’re at an office party and your boss insists you toast this month’s sales figures with a glass of cold beer? Your boss isn’t psychic.
Forty years before Bill Wilson would help develop Alcoholics Anonymous in his Brooklyn Heights town house, drinking was prodigious at every level of society — from the beer halls in the immigrant quarters of the Lower East Side to the clubs and moneyed nightlife farther uptown.
Liverpool is still a relatively poor city with high unemployment and poor housing which partly explains why drug and drink addiction is so high; there are twelve Alcoholics Anonymous meetings here every week.
It also explains why Liverpool is at the forefront of the movement in England.
Mr Martin, who has been sober for three years, has lost two partners to alcohol-related illnesses.
Now he is worried by the rise in the number of young people at his Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
"We are getting more young people at meetings, particularly young women," he said.
"They are getting really ill through drinking and it scares me for future generations.
AA meetings can be held anywhere, but frequently they take place in public buildings such as churches or schools—accessible locations that usually have plenty of parking. Approaching the meeting location, you may see people gathered outside, chatting before the meeting starts (or smoking, as many AA meetings are now smoke-free). Frequently, there is coffee available. Most AA meetings start (and end) on time, so at the scheduled hour the chairperson or group secretary will call the meeting to order.
One of my favorite quotes in AA is something that Dr. Bob, one of the original AA founders, had on his desk at work. It goes like this: “Humility is perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted or vexed, or irritable, To wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing that is done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised, it is to have a blessed home in myself where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Creator and Sustainer in secret and be at peace, as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and about is seeming trouble.”
The Conference actually took place in three parts: (1) the Conference itself was held Tuesday in California Hall where a record number of 300 AA’s attended; (2) an address by Bill, (attended by approximately 2,900 AA’s, relatives, and friends) on AA History — Its Third Legacy, was held at the War Memorial Opera House Tuesday evening; and (3) the very first meeting of Panel One of the General Service Conference was held in California Hall Wednesday morning.