Here's my reply to a puzzled AA
My son Ken may be able to add something to this, but I begin by stating I certainly know your quandary about “recovery” and “recovered” and I’m wondering if you know about “cured.” I suggest you begin by reading page 191 of the 4th edition of the Big Book and then my title “Cured!!: Proven Help Today for Alcoholics and Addicts” www.dickb.com/cured.shtml.
I doubt if anyone in or out of A.A. knows who at GSO – now that Wilson is dead and Nell Wing is out of the picture – makes these mysterious changes in Big Book language. I certainly don’t when it comes to “recovery” “recovered” and “cured.”
We have thoroughly documented that Dr. Silkworth, Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob, and A.A. Number Three all believe they had been permanently cured of alcoholism. The first draft cover of the Big Book (green) has the phrase “Alcoholics Anonymous Their Pathway to a Cure.” The Wilson-Parkhurst promotional says they had a cured. GSO sells a catalogue with innumerable news, magazines, and columnist clippings across America in which many AAs were quoted as saying they were cured by the power of God. You can also read in the 4th edition the statements in pages 180-182 and page 191 where the same statement is made. There is also the lengthy series of news article which originally said “cured” and then mysteriously began to appear with “recovered” and the “cured” deleted. Who did it? Why?
Although the phrase “in recovery” is certainly popular in treatment arenas and in other fellowships, it seems to be a product of the thinking and language of those who make a living out of revolving door treatment and relapse and treatment and relapse and treatment and relapse. In this respect, I can say of myself that I was a mighty sick man when I entered the rooms of A.A. more than 25 years ago and have never had a drink or a sleeping pill from that day until this. At about 8 months, I truly turned to God for help with all my troubles—just as the early AAs did—and I believe I had been cured by the power of God, For I never doubted the cures in the Old Testament, the cures by Jesus, and the cures listed in the Book of Acts. I still don’t.
As to “recovered,” I have been through all the tortured questioning of when and whether and how we could say “recovery” when the Big Book says “recovered” and Bill later injected from The Common Sense of Drinking that we are never cured. Once an alcoholic always an alcoholic. Then allowed the very very clear statements by Bill Wilson and Bill Dotson to be included in page 191 of the Big Book where both averred: “The Lord has cured me.”
You may note the footnote in A.A. Conference Approved literature that endeavors to justify the change by implying the early AAs were misled. Wilson? Smith? Dotson? Silkworth? The writer of the Liberty Magazine Article who interviewed Bill? The hundreds of statements in newspapers (printed in A.A.’s own catalog). Or the unspecified committee who added that statement to DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers?
So today: Are we “in recovery?” I’m not. But I hear it all the time in the “wisdom of the rooms.”
Are we “recovered?” Well the Big Book says it is going to have the writers tell us exactly how they recovered. And I happen to think I’ve come a lot farther with God’s help than quivering each day in fear that I only have today I have no problem saying that I have recovered.
Are we “Cured?” Dr. Silkworth wrote and advised patients that Jesus Christ could cure them. He also was the primary speaker in the Rockefeller offices where four Rockefeller people, Wilson and some New York alcoholics, Smith and some Akron alcoholics, Dr. Strong—Bill’s brother-in-law—were present when Silkworth said he believed the men he had treated had been permanently cured.
Then we go to the academic community and want to argue over whether we have an allergy and an obsession where the obsession is removed by the power of God (something they sometimes call “arrested”) The allergy remains as a constant threat. But I suggest you look at the Book of James—which Dr. Bob quoted frequently, which the Big Book quotes—which points out that “temptation” is a deadly problem, that the devil must be resisted, that we are to submit ourselves to God and humble ourselves while the “Lord” lifts us up. I can easily concede that temptation to drink, to smoke, to steal, to lie, to cheat, to be mean and angry, to be fearful are always there to entice, trap, and destroy. See John 10:10. But Dr. Bob pointed to the language of the Lord’s Prayer which asks deliverance from temptation.
Thus, we can simply dive into A.A.—sick or well. We can study the Big Book and “take” the Twelve Steps. We can start “working with others’ as quickly as possible. We can recognize that Bill’s conversion was changed to a spiritual experience, then to a spiritual awakening, and then to a personality change. Finally, we can keep it really simple and “trust God, clean house, and help others” by telling them how we did it with God’s help when we sought Him. Otherwise, why the abc’s on page 60! That God could and would if He were sought! An original manuscript says He can and He will.
Maybe we suffer from a severe writer’s problem and those who like to present their opinions as dogma.