A.A. History: “Old School A.A.” Applied to 12 Step Recovery Today
By Dick B.
© 2010 Anonymous. All rights reserved
Are the Recovery Needs Today Different from Those at A.A.’s Founding?
Some may think that alcoholics, alcoholism—even addiction—present different problems today than those which the original Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” overcame in the 1930’s. But are they?
Let’s examine what hasn’t changed. Alcoholics—even addicts—are those who have lost the ability to control their drinking or drugging. Alcoholism—even addiction---may well be defined today as a mental and physician condition that leads afflicted people almost inevitably to excess and disaster and repetition every time they pick up the first drink or drug. And A.A. added a couple of other points: (1) Afflicted people must concede to their innermost self that they have the problem, have been unable to lick it on their own, have not received help from human resources, and have reached the point where they are willing to turn completely to God for help. (2) God can and will and does help when He is earnestly sought. And the words of Hebrews 11:6 give testimony to that fact. None of these factors has changed. In fact, neither Prohibition, Wars on Drugs, incarceration, “treatment,” “therapy,” “behavior modification,” “mutual support groups,” or mental facilities have made any more than a dent in the problem. That situation has not changed.
The Need for “Divine Aid” Is as Great Today as It Was in 1935
The original, “old school,” Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” program was as simple as it was effective. Its seven points were summarized by Frank Amos for John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in an investigation of the original program conducted in February 1938. The program summary is published on page 131 of the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book, Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers (NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980). That simple, seven-point program was so effective that early A.A. claimed a 75% success rate among “seemingly-hopeless,” “medically-incurable,” “last-gasp-case,” “real” alcoholics who thoroughly followed the original program. And we have laid out the program and the documentation of its success in our new title, The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2010). (Please see www.DickB.com for more details.)
Alcoholics and addicts today are just as hopeless, just as un-empowered, just as incapable of ending their misery on their own as they were in 1935. In short, they have been and continue to be “licked.” And even the current edition of A.A.'s basic text—i.e., the Fourth Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, affectionately known as the “Big Book” and published in 2001—rests its case on what many know as the “abc’s” which are set forth as follows on page 60:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could relieve us of our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.
Early AAs proved this in their simple program. And AAs today still recite or listen to the abc’s at almost any and every meeting they attend. They admit they are licked. They admit that no human power has relieved them of their alcoholism. They embark on a path to a relationship with God which can and will heal them if they are willing to go (and do go!) to any lengths to seek and receive that healing. The solution in 1935 was God. The solution in 2010, for those who want it, is still God. And that hasn’t changed.
What, Then, Were the Practices in Which the Early AAs Engaged
This article, and several that follow, will specify, document, and amplify each of the 14 principles and practices in which the early AAs engaged to achieve the 75% success rate they claimed. And this is to the end that every person in A.A., every person in a Twelve-step Fellowship, and every person who uses a 12-Step treatment approach can see that the original, “old school” A.A. practices of early A.A. can be applied today with the same successful results, if they become known, are learned, are applied, and are tested for their effectiveness. And we believe they can and will produce the same results in A.A., 12-Step Fellowships, and 12-Step treatment approaches if the program and the afflicted person are willing to seek and receive God’s help.
In following articles, I will present, one-by-one, the 14 practices that were effective in 1935 and can be again today.