Reflections on Measuring “Success,” “Sobriety,” and “Results” in A.A.

I am much inclined to judge “success” by the quality of life the assessor is describing when he or she talks of “sober” or “sobriety” or “follow-up.” Almost every alcoholic has tried to “quit” many times and yet returned to the mire to wallow. Hence having “quit ” for a time is no achievement at all. Others (and I know many) have been “sober” for many years (perhaps 20 0r more) and yet returned to drinking. Why? Still others while away their days sitting in one or more meetings a week and contributing little in terms of Big Book information, Step information, Relationship with God information, Bible information, and history information. Some might call them “institutionalized” alcoholics. Then there are those who believe that “working” or “practicing” the Steps for a short or a long time suffices as success. Still others grasp the early A.A. Christian Fellowship idea that it is about: (1) Quitting for good. (2) Going to any length to succeed. (3) Entrusting your life to God. (4) Obeying God. (5) Growing spiritually through Bible study, prayer, Quiet Time, and reading religious literature. (6) Helping others get well by the same means. (7) Engaging in religious and social comradeship. (8) Attending some religious service once a week. See DR. BOB and the Good Old-timers, page 131, for a summary of the original program. Finally, there are those like Dr. Bob who plant their feet on God’s solid foundation, regularly help or “sponsor” others–always looking for newcomers, maintaining a religious fellowship much like that of the First Century Christians, mending matters per Steps 8 and 9, heeding the principles found in the Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13, and making the best of whatever is left of or available through family life, vocational life, business or labor life, religious life, and serving and glorifying God. There’s more. And perhaps others will elaborate.


About mauihistorian

Uses pen name Dick B.: Writer, Historian, Retired attorney, Bible student, CDAAC, and active and recovered A.A. member with over 25 years of continuous sobriety. Published 42 titles and over 650 articles on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Christian Recovery Movement.
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