Dick B. Christian Recovery Radio Show on Applying Old School A.A. Today

Dick B. discusses: “‘Old-School’ Recovery Procedures That Were Recommended and Used.” Topic of the December 24, 2013, episode of the “Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.” show. www.ChristianRecoveryRadio.com


Dick B.

© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved


You may hear this radio talk right now!




You may hear Dick B. discuss “‘Old-School’ Recovery Procedures That Were Recommended and Used” on the December 24, 2013, episode of the “Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.” show here:




or here:




Episodes of the “Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.” show are archived at:





As 2014 nears, I look at 24 years of research and 46 books on the history of A.A. and the Christian Recovery Movement. We’ve defined the Christian origins of the recovery movement. We’ve defined the Christian upbringing of A.A. cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob. We’ve related how the first three AAs got sober before there was a Big Book; before there were 12 Steps or 12 Traditions; and before there were drunkalogs or meetings like today’s. And we have unearthed the seven principles and 16 practices of the early Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” founded in 1935. Now we focus on just how the remarkable program of early Akron A.A. put Alcoholics Anonymous on the map with its astonishingly-simple recovery program. Today we look forward. How do we know that suffering souls can recover using the Christian methods of yesteryear? One answer can be found in the observations of how similar the Christian recovery techniques were that preceded the early Akron A. fellowship program. So this evening, we will review with you the comments that recovery experts were making and which have applicability to A.A. then and now. And these are the topics: (1) The five basic ideas that describe the successes of The Salvation Army. (2) The simple recovery steps the first three AAs took. (3) Frank Amos’s February 1938, seven-point summary of the early A.A. “Christian fellowship” program in Akron. (4) The six observations of Dr. Silkworth as he described the A.A. ideas for success. (5) Ten elements that can be observed in 12 Step programs today and which will bring “old-school” A.A. techniques back  to the fore to the blessing of all the affected and of the afflicted who still suffer.





Old School Recovery Procedures That Were Recommended and Used


•        Salvation Army: 29 Lectures at Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies, 1945


Rev. Francis W. McPeek, Executive Director, Department of Social Welfare, Federation of Churches, Washington, D.C., at pages 414-415: “Much work was done in city missions and particularly by the Salvation Army. The Army, however, has focused its efforts on the conversion experience. Generally speaking, the Salvationists have capitalized on the same techniques that have made other reform programs work:


(1)        Insistence on total abstinence.

(2)        Reliance upon God.

(3)        The provision of new friendships among those who understand.

(4)        The opportunity to work with those who suffer from the same difficulty.

(5)        Unruffled patience and consistent faith in the ability of the individual and in the power of God to accomplish the desired ends.


•           The First Three AAs Got Sober and Were Cured Before There Were Any Steps, Traditions, Big Books, Drunkalogs, or Meetings Like Those Today.


Their simple admission of defeat, willingness to heed the principles of the Bible,  surrender to the power and love of God, and help others get well were all it took to turn things around, be cured, serve and glorify their Creator, and bring newcomers to the fold..


(1)        Bill Wilson believed in God, extensively studied the Bible, was raised in Christian churches and Academies, became a born again Christian at Calvary Mission, sought a vital religious experience at Towns Hospital by calling on the “Great Physician” and crying out  to God for help. Bill’s belief in God returned. Bill had a vital religious experience at Towns Hospital, was cured, and resolved to serve others as his old friend Ebby Thacher had served him.


(2)        Dr. Bob had been immersed in Christian upbringing, the Bible, prayer meetings, Quiet Hour, reading and discussing Christian literature, living with other Christians, and witnessing. He finally turned to prayer for God’s help, had his prayers answered through Bill Wilson’s visit, and dedicated himself to developing a simple program for others and helping them. Five thousand of them!



(3)        Bill D., A.A. Number Three, was a Christian, a church deacon and Sunday school teacher who believed in God, prayer, church, Bible study, and seeking God’s help. When he did so, he was instantly cured and became the element that constituted the first A.A. Group founding on July 4, 1935.. 


•           The Christian Technique That  Rockefeller Agent Frank Amos Found in Akron and Summarized on Page 131 of DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers


Following his visit to Akron in February 1938, Frank Amos, John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s agent, summarized the original Akron A.A. “Program” in seven points. Here are those points, as quoted in Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers:

•           An alcoholic must realize that he is an alcoholic, incurable from a medical viewpoint, and that he must never drink anything with alcohol in it.

•           He must surrender himself absolutely to God, realizing that in himself there is no hope.

•           Not only must he want to stop drinking permanently, he must remove from his life other sins such as hatred, adultery, and others which frequently accompany alcoholism. Unless he will do this absolutely, Smith and his associates refuse to work with him.

•           He must have devotions every morning—a “quiet time” of prayer and some reading from the Bible and other religious literature. Unless this is faithfully followed, there is grave danger of backsliding

•           He must be willing to help other alcoholics get straightened out. This throws up a protective barrier and strengthens his own willpower and convictions.

•           It is important, but not vital, that he meet frequently with other reformed alcoholics and form both a social and a religious comradeship.

•           Important, but not vital, that he attend some religious service at least once weekly.



•           W. D. Silkworth, M.D., A New Approach to Psychotherapy in Chronic Alcoholism, Journal Lancet, July 27, 1939 (Silkworth biography p.158)


How do so many gravely involved people remain sober and face life again, he asked. And these were his answers.


(1)        One powerful factor is that of self-preservation. These ex-alcoholics frequently find that unless they spend time in helping others to health, they cannot stay sober themselves. Strenuous, almost sacrificial work for other sufferers is often imperative in the early days of recovery. Their effort proceeds entirely on a good will basis.

(2)        The principal answer is: Each alcoholic has had, and is able to maintain a vital spiritual or “religious” experience. This so-called “experience” is accompanied by marked changes in personality. There is always, in a successful case, a radical change in outlook, attitude, and habits of thought

(3)        The essential features of this new approach have been effectual in something like half of all cases upon which it has been tried. The essential features are:


(a)        The ex-alcoholics capitalize upon a fact which they have so well demonstrated, namely: that one alcoholic can secure the confidence of another in a way and to a degree almost impossible of attainment by a non-alcoholic outsider.

(b)        After having fully identified themselves with their “prospect” by a recital of symptoms, behavior, anecdotes, etc., these men allow the patient to draw the inference that if he is seriously alcoholic, there may be no hope for him save a spiritual experience.

(c)        Once the patient agrees that he is powerless, he finds himself in a serious dilemma. He sees clearly that he must have a spiritual experience or be destroyed by alcohol.

(4)        This dilemma brings about a crisis in the patient’s life. He finds himself in a situation which, he believes, cannot be untangled by human means. He has been placed in this position by another alcoholic who has recovered through a spiritual experience. They can penetrate and carry conviction where the physician or clergyman cannot. Under these circumstances, the patient turns to religion with an entire willingness and readily accepts, without reservation, a simple religious proposal. He is then able to acquire much more than a set of religious beliefs; he undergoes the profound mental and emotional change common to religious “experience.” Then, too, the patient’s hope is renewed and his imagination is fired by the idea of membership in a group of alcoholics where he will be enabled to save the lives and homes of those who have suffered as he has suffered.

(5)        [Here Silkworth demonstrates an affinity in 1939 to Wilson’s “any god” or “higher power” even though in 1934, he had told Bill and others that Jesus Christ could cure him. Silkworth says:] “The fellowship is entirely indifferent concerning the individual manner of spiritual approach so long as the patient is willing to turn his life and his problems over to the care and direction of his Creator. The patient may picture the Deity in any way he likes.”


(6)        . If the patient indicates a willingness to go on, a suggestion is made that he do certain things which are obviously good psychology, good morals and good religion , regardless of creed:


(a) That he make a moral appraisal of himself, and confidentially discuss his findings with a competent person whom he trusts.

(b) That he try to adjust bad personal relationships, setting right, so far as possible, such wrongs as he may have one in the past.

(c) That he recommit himself daily, or hourly if need be, to God’s care and direction, asking for strength.

(d) That , if possible, he attend weekly meetings of the fellowship and actively lend a hand with alcoholic newcomers.


Our Summary—Based in Part on the Foregoing Observations–Elements of Recovery That Were Effective Before Wilson’s New Version Twelve Step Program. They Were Reported to Others With Care—Particularly in the Personal Stories of the A.A. Pioneers. They Can Bring Today’s Twelve Step Fellowships, Their “Solution,” Their Clear References to “the God of the Scriptures,” Their Former References to “Cure,” and Their Moral Precepts Together. These can Enhance Approaches to the Newcomer. And they Can Honor The Principles of Guidance and Forgiveness, and Making Amends that Can and Do Lead to a Life that is abundant, eternal, and healthy.


1,Qualifying newcomers: (a) Define an alcoholic, Big Book, 4th ed., pp. 30, 44, and the Twenty Questions Test. (b) Exchange stories to qualify newcomer. (c) Make clear that he must want to quit permanently, and never drink or use again. (d) Be sure he knows he must go to any lengths.


2.         Insist on medical exam, detox, or hospitalization.


3.         Introduce him to the abc’s – making certain he believes in God and wishes to come to Him through Jesus Christ. And does so. Point out that early A.A.’s basic ideas came from the Bible and early AAs believed the answers to their problems were in the Bible – particularly Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, the Book of James, and 1 Corinthians 13—being practiced by First Century Christian, and described in the Book of Acts.


4.         Make certain he knows he can get well for good when he makes a decision to entrust his life to the care, power, and love of God. Introduce him to daily prayers of thanks in the name of Jesus Christ; prayers asking removing alcohol and drugs and temptation from his life; and prayers helping him to live the precepts of Sermon, James, and 1 Corinthians 13.


5.         Orient him by (a) Introducing him to the 7 point A.A. program, and its 16 practices. (b) Explaining that in 1939 a new version was introduced in the Big Book and 12 Steps. (c)  Showing him the key “Conference-approved” literature – 1st ed. Big Book; DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers,  The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (Pamphlet P-53) (d) Urging a daily quiet time with God, including Bible reading, prayer, asking forgiveness, giving thanks, and requesting guidance and peace.


6.         Have him commit to helping others immediately to get straightened out and doing so from the beginning.


7.         Take him through the 12 Steps as soon as possible, using the Our Faith Legacy Guidebook. Explain at that time the following operative idea in each step (1 ) Conceding he is licked and needs God’s help. (2) Believing God has given him the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind—claiming soundness of mind in avoiding addictive substances and the consequences. (3) Trusting in God. (4) Cleaning house—removing resentment, self-seeking, dishonesty, and fear. (5) Confessing sinful conduct to God, another human being, and himself. (6) Convincing himself that he needs God’s help to recognize and reject sinful conduct. (7) Renewing his mind to walking by the spirit instead of by way of the flesh. (8-9) Making a list of harms to others, and making amends. (10) Daily reviewing of sins, asking forgiveness, checking for sins, confessing them, resisting and ceasing them with God’s help, amends, walking in love. (11) Checking before bed for sins, asking forgiveness, planning change that night, asking guidance in the morning, attending to religious observances in the day, and pursuing the peace of God instead of strife. (12) Making sure to help others and participate fully in the fellowship. Keeping in mind the sins to be avoided, the temptations to be resisted, and the love to be



8.         Living First Century Christian Fellowship daily and together –  In company with like-minded believers, prayer together, Bible study together, breaking-bread together, living together if possible, healing others in the name of Jesus Christ, witnessing, leading others to God through Christ, increasing the number of believers.


9.         Speaking, sponsoring, serving, studying daily to carry the real message of being licked, surrendering to God, asking God for help and obeying Him, understanding Proverbs 3:5-6, the Four Absolutes, prayer, Bible study, the renewed mind, and walking by the spirit claiming that the Father delivered him from the power of darkness and translated him into the kingdom of His Dear Son so that he could relate to the verse: “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.


10.       Remembering that the newcomer is usually a sick person needing patience, kindness, love, God’s wisdom, the Bible’s principles, and the service of others.




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. www.dickb.com
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