Originally, AA meetings consisted of several AAs
meeting in a member's home, oftentimes in the company of their mates
(there was no Al-anon yet). The meetings had two purposes:
• One was to show newcomers (alcoholics and their spouses) that others
who suffered from alcoholism had taken the Steps to recovery and they
had actually recovered from an otherwise chronic, progressive, and fatal
• The other purpose of the meeting was to exchange information and ideas
that would help members of the group help newcomers.
In time, some groups grew too large to meet in somebody's living room
or parlor; the Akron group moved into a local schoolroom.
Around 1940, the First Edition of the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous
was available, newspapers and national magazines published articles
about the "new cure," AAs 12-Step Program of Recovery, and
thousands of newcomers overwhelmed the fledgling fellowship; AA meetings
became a means of organizing teams of AAs to help the newcomers take
all the steps in less than a month. New men found themselves 12-stepping
others immediately after attending their first AA meeting -- they were
in a car with other AAs on their way to help a drunk after the meeting.
Read Clarence Snyder's story.
Fifteen years later, a series of essays written by Bill W. were published
in the "Twelve and Twelve" -- intended to clarify AA doctrine,
some people found it easier to read the essays than the Basic 164-page
text preceded by the critically-important "Doctor's Opinion."
As a result, newcomers to AA began to missed some very important points
that other AAs assumed everyone knew. After the mid-50's, AA's legendary
75% recovery rate began to decline. by 1965, it was down to 50%.
Almost fifteen years after the "12&12" hit the street,
the Grapevine Magazine published an article advocating "discussion
meetings." Discussion of the contents of the Big Book was a worthy
goal, but somehow, the message was distorted. As a result, discussions
ranged widely; they were not focused on the doctrine developed by the
co-founders of AA, the First 100, or the people they sponsored. As Bill
feared, without clear, concise, written instructions, "The Message"
began to change as it was passed from member to member by word of mouth.
About that time, the health care industry began developing "treatment"
and "treatment centers" to help alcoholics and drug addicts
recover from their various afflictions. Their multi-disciplinary approach
attempted to fix all of their patients' physical, mental, and emotional
problems. Until then, AA had focused solely on overcoming the "spiritual
malady," thereby causing a profound psychic change that revolutionized
the alcoholic's thinking and behavior. By 1980, only one-third of the
newcomers flocking to now-popular AA recovered and stayed active in
With the passage of time and a reduction of focus on the Basic Text,
AA's central office last reported that fewer than 5% of newcomers to
AA recovered and remained active in the fellowship. Treatment centers
experienced similar poor success rates, patients who relapsed repeatedly,
returning to out-patient and residential treatment three, five, or more
times before they recovered permanently - if they ever recovered. AA
groups experienced the same phenomenon as they put more emphasis on
discussion meetings and focused less and less on twelfth-step work (after
all, the courts and the treatment centers were now dealing with the
still-suffering alcoholic and almost certainly, they referred all the
newcomers to AA sooner or later).
By the year 2000, sixty years after a highly-effective solution became
popular, the Fellowship of AA has become ineffective.
Few AA meetings focus on the Basic Text or the Twelve-Step Program of
recovery so clearly expressed in the Big Book. Open Discussion meetings,
attended by large numbers of people who have not studied the Basic Text,
tend to create forums for wide-ranging discussions that have little
in common with the 12-Step program of AA. Many of them seem identical
to the "group therapy" meetings held in treatment centers
where virtually everything except overcoming the spiritual malady is
Alcoholics Anonymous - Page 17: The tremendous
fact for everyone of us is that we have discovered a common solution.
We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we
can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news
this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism.
'164FL.com' is dedicated to providing internet exposure for FL Big Book
based meetings that focus on the 'Solution' found in the first 164 pages
of the basic text. This site does not represent the views of Alcoholics
Anonymous, the AA General Service Office, AA World Services, The AA
Grapevine, any central office, AA group or meeting. For information
about AA and AA meetings or literature, please reference the official
AA (GSO) Web Site or check other resources online or in your phone book.