Alcoholics Anonymous - The Primary Purpose Group Elmira, NY


That question is being asked by a lot of alcoholics lately.  What happened to our high success rate?  30 & 40 years ago, we were keeping 75% or more of the alcoholics who came to us for help.  Today, we aren’t keeping even 5%.  What happened?

What happened to that wonderful A.A. Group that was around for 20, 30 or 40 years?  There used to be 50, 75, 100 or more at every meeting.  It is now a matter of history; gone!  More and more groups are folding every day.  What happened?

We hear a lot of ideas, opinions and excuses as to what happened but things are not improving.  They continue to get worse.  What is happening?

Bill W. wrote,
“In the years ahead A.A. will, of course, make mistakes.  Experience has taught us that we need have no fear of doing this, providing that we always remain willing to admit our faults and to correct them promptly.  Our growth as individuals has depended upon this healthy process of trial and error.  So will our growth as a fellowship.

Let us always remember that any society of men and women that cannot freely correct its own faults must surely fall into decay if not into collapse.    Such is the universal penalty for the failure to go on growing.  Just as each A.A. must continue to take his moral inventory and act upon it, so must our whole Society if we are to survive and if we are to serve usefully and well.” (A.A. Comes of Age, pg 231)

With so very few finding lasting sobriety and the continued demise of AA groups, it is obvious that we have not remained willing to admit our faults and to correct them promptly.

Seems to me that the Delegate of the Northeast Ohio Area, Bob Bacon, identified our mistakes and our faults when he talked to a group of AA’s in 1976.  He said, in essence, we are no longer showing the newcomer that we have a solution for alcoholism.  We are not telling them about the Big Book and how very important that Book is to our long term sobriety.  We are not telling them about our Traditions and how very important they are to the individual groups and to Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole.  Rather, we are using our meeting time for drunkalogs, a discussion of our problems, ideas and opinions or “my day” or “my way”.

Having been around for a few years, and reflecting on what Bob Bacon had to say, it would appear that we have permitted newcomers to convince the old-timers that they had a better idea.  They had just spent 30 or more days in a treatment facility where they had been impressed with the need to talk about their problems in Group Therapy Sessions.  They had been told that it didn’t make any difference what their real problem was, A.A. had the “best program”.  They were told that they should go to an A.A. meeting every day for the 1st 90 days out of treatment.  They were told that they shouldn’t make any major decisions for the 1st year of their sobriety.  And what they were told goes on and on, most of which are contrary to the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous! 

Apparently, what they were told sounded pretty good to the A.A. members who were here when the TC clients started showing up at our meetings.  And a lot of the A.A. members liked the idea of the treatment centers because the centers provided a place where they could drop off a serious drinker, if he/she had insurance.  That eliminated some of the inconveniences we had been plagued with before; having to pour orange juice and honey or a shot of booze down a vibrating alky to help them “de-tox”.

When A.A.  was very successful, the folks who did the talking in meetings were recovered alcoholics.  The suffering and untreated alcoholics listened.  After hearing what it takes to recover, the newcomer was faced with a decision; “Are you going to take the Steps and

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The primary purpose group website is neither endorsed nor approved by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services.  This website is simply part of our 12-step work; its main purpose is to show the alcoholic who still suffers the simplicity and the effectiveness of the program of alcoholics anonymous when practiced as described in the big book of A. A.   

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