Tag Archives: alcoholics anonymous

Probably the last book review you’ll ever read here

First of all, I need to assure my readers that I have absolutely no connection with the author of this book or his publisher.  I received no incentives to write this.  I purchased the book myself, and have been using it daily for several months.  This review is based solely on my admiration for an exceptional recovery resource that doesn’t get enough air time around the rooms.

I begin this review with trepidation because it is normally my policy not to do book reviews or promotional posts.  I had to adopt that position after years of requests to read books, bb-image22infographics and do reviews of websites, some of which were great, some of no interest and some of which were even toxic.  Nonetheless, I’m writing this one — with full knowledge that it will probably engender another s—storm of requests (which will, let me say in advance, be refused).

A year or so ago, I started looking for recovery resources that would be suitable for people who have a problem with the “God Thing” in AA, NA and most of the other 12-step fellowships.  As we all know, this is an issue for some, newcomers in particular.  While searching, I stumbled across “Joe C” and Beyond Belief — agnostic musings for 12-step life, his book of daily readings for folks in recovery.  After using it for the past eight months, I have come to the conclusion that it is the most valuable recovery resource I’ve used in more than a quarter of a century in 12-step recovery, excluding the basic texts of the individual fellowships, of course.  I learn something from it every morning, and I would be proud to have written it myself.  Unfortunately, I’m just not. . .that. . .good.

Don’t let the title fool you.  This isn’t a trash-the-believers book.  It’s respectful and inclusive: more a secular examination of the various addictions and programs than agnostic in the sense most people think of it.  No believer of any kind need be put off, and it would be a crying shame if any were because this book is a treasure chest of down-to-earth, triple-distilled recovery of the best kind.

I opened the book at random to the July 7th reading.  Consider the following:

First time Fourth Steppers are cautioned that this list is no magic pill; it is a step in the right direction to honest self-appraisal.  Many of us do Step Four more than once just as some businesses do a complete inventory every year or two.  Each new inventory isn’t an admission of failure of the previous stocktaking.  Rather, it is a new balance sheet on a new day to quantify progress and circumstances.

Some inventories look at the good and the bad: shameful acts vs. great accomplishments, healthy expressions of fear and anger vs. unhealthy expressions of fear and anger and our histories of deception and avoidance vs. examples of bravery and honesty.  Mismanaged feelings are addiction triggers.  Step Four uncovers the emotional triggers that set off the freeze, fight and flight reflexes. [Emphasis mine]  Like a blueprint, Step Four shows us how we’re wired, opening the door to change.

Like I said, I sure wish I’d written that!

Please, suspend your prejudices about the word “agnostic” (which, after all, only means “one who doesn’t know”), and get a copy of Beyond Belief.  I promise you that it will be one of the best recovery purchases you’ve ever made.  It will be part of my daily practice from now until I move on to find the definitive answers, and I’ll bet it will be for you, too.

Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life: finally, a daily reflection book for nonbelievers, freethinkers and everyone Paperback – January 21, 2013

by Joe C.  (Author)

51 customer reviews (Amazon)

Am I Really “In Recovery”?

frog-on-a-log-clipart-1At most meetings of anonymous fellowships we have “go arounds”, where attendees identify themselves and assure one another that they are qualified to be present.  We hear “My name is Eddie, and I’m an alcoholic,” or “My name is Freida, and I’m addicted to gambling,” or “I’m Bill, in recovery from sex addiction,” or “I’m Larry, and I’m qualified to be here.”

Only Bill claims to be in recovery, and yet on closer inspection it may turn out that he’s merely attending meetings, while Larry — whose only claim is that he’s qualified to be here — may, indeed, be truly “in” recovery.

What does it mean, to be in recovery?  Continue reading

I Know A Few Myself…

Eighty years ago today, a proctologist in Akron, Ohio, took his last drink of booze.  As a result of his having gotten sober with the help of another drunk, a businessman from New York, Alcoholics Anonymous was born.  More here.

It would be interesting to know how many people owe their lives and the sanity of family members to that happy coincidence, via the rooms of AA and its sister organization Alanon.  We will, of course, never know.  We can surmise that the figure is in the millions, but there is no real way to tell.

There’s a bunch, though.  I know a few myself.  Happy Birthday, AA!

And thanks, from the bottom of my heart.

Home Groups — The Place To Celebrate New Year’s

The three attributes of AA, the Steps, Traditions and Concepts, are the foundations of any program: Unity, Service and Recovery. Just as a triangle can’t support itself without all three sides, a 12-Step Group couldn’t survive without all three “sides” of its structure. With its sides intact, on the other hand, a triangle (or pyramid) is the most stable structure there is.

We have to:

  • Stick together and support each other;
  • Make sure that we — and newcomers — have a place to come to;
  • Progress physically, spiritually and emotionally so that we can get better ourselves and then help others to recover.

The home group is the basis of all three things.  Read More

 

Discovery Place — Fellowship-oriented Residential Recovery

Note — In response to a recent squabble among some treatment centers in the Nashville area:
Much of recovery is about faith and trust, and it behooves all of us in, or peripheral to, the industry to keep the faith and trust of our clients — and those of others — sacrosanct. This article should in no way be taken as recommending one facility or treatment protocol over another. As I have written here, I consider any treatment modality that is producing successful outcomes to have its place, even though I might or might not agree with their approach.  Furthermore, I believe that “trashing” of facilities or protocols by rivals does a disservice to the recovery community as a whole, and to clients or prospective clients specifically.

I was recently contacted by Bill D., from Discovery Place, in Burns, TN, about including something about their facility here on What…Me Sober?  I’m usually hesitant to do that sort of thing, because (a) I don’t want to be buried in requests, and (b) don’t want to show favorites.

However, I was rather taken with the idea of Discovery Place (DP), after I twisted my head around what I now consider to be irrelevant 8th Tradition issues.  (See the afterword.)  Since I have contacts in the Nashville area I was able to reach out and learn that DP is well-regarded in the recovery community, and so I figured I’d make this exception to my rule.  I’ll let Bill explain it:

Discovery Place Inc 3Discovery Place opened its doors in 1997 as a recovery/spiritual retreat for men battling drug addiction and alcoholism. Founded by two men with long-term sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous, Discovery Place formulated programs around the principles contained in the Big Book. Every DP guest undergoes the 12 step process by receiving instructions in one-on-one and small group settings. Our primary guides, all of whom are in recovery, play the primary role in guiding guests through the steps. We also utilize the services of volunteers from the Middle Tennessee recovery community to enrich and supplement our guest’s road to recovery.

Our main campus is located on 17 acres of beautiful country farmland just outside Nashville, TN, in a small Discovery Place Inc (1)town called Burns. We have found this scenic, open environment lends inspiration and provides a restorative element to men badly burned from years of alcohol and drug abuse. The long-term recovery program campus is located close to our main campus in Dickson, TN. This campus serves men who have decided to extend their stay at Discovery Place past 30 days. Our LTR house can accommodate up to 6 men and offers beach volleyball, a driving range, ping pong, billiards and a patio with brick fireplace for night meetings.

I believe our organization is unique in two regards: staff and community. All of our staff, with the exception of our accountant, are in recovery. Almost all of them were introduced to a sober way of living at Discovery Discovery Place Inc 1Place. Because they completed at least one of our programs, staff members are in a unique position to identify and relate to guests. Over the course of their stay at Discovery Place, many guests form close bounds that continue after commencement (graduation). Many guests choose to stay close to our facility in one of the Dickson area recovery homes and live with their fellow DP alums. In many ways, we are a sober fraternity. Many guests also decide to begin volunteering at Discovery Place as soon as they commence, which is an option available to them. These facets of DP seem to work in tandem to create a flourishing recovery community. In addition to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, this might be why so many of our men pick up year or multi-year medallions.

So, that’s that, and hopefully someone will find their program interesting and perhaps useful.  Bill has assured me that their residents are encouraged to get “outside help” for issues if needed, and that opportunities abound for recreation in the area.  In fact, he was delayed getting this article to me because he was off on their annual White Water Rafting weekend.

http://www.discoveryplace.info/

Now, a word about the 8th Tradition issues.  I have no problem with them, and neither do the folks at Discovery Place.  That said, it’s none of my business anyway.  I have my own problems, and if they’re getting along with the AA groups around Nashville, I’m good with it.  (If they weren’t, I doubt they’d have stayed around as long as they have.)

All of the above being the case, I am not going to host a forum on 8th Step issues here.  If you have a problem with the way DP handles the Traditions, feel free to contact them.  Traditions rants will not be published here. This site is about recovery, not AA politics.