AA MINORITY REPORT 2017 (revised)

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Sunday 3 October 2021

A Newcomers (Survival) Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous

Firstly …....DON'T PANIC! Most AA meetings are still safe to be around, and most AA members only want to help you.... because helping you helps them as well. So everyone's a winner! BUT.... and there's always a BUT.....there are people associated with AA who aren't very well, and have quite a different agenda. This article is intended to help you spot these pitfalls and avoid them. Otherwise enjoy the journey!

Membership of AA

You are a member of AA when you say you are. You don't have to prove to anyone that you have a desire to stop drinking - or that you “qualify” for membership in any way - or present a doctor's certificate - or swear an affidavit or even fill in a form. You decide …. end of! Similarly if you don't want to be a member of AA any more? Guess what! It's your choice. If you say you're not a member of AA then you're not a member of AA. Couldn't be simpler could it!


You can attend any AA meeting you like (anywhere in the world) and go to as few or as many as you wish – or even none at all. It's your choice and no one else's. If a group places ANY restriction on you attending a (closed) meeting (other than the fact that you meet the self-determined membership requirement) then it's NOT AN AA MEETING.

Speaking (“sharing”) at AA meetings

Any member of AA can speak at an AA meeting (but one at a time – otherwise it's gets a bit messy!). No one can censor what you say (other than according to the criminal law of the country). You can speak if you're one hour sober or a lifetime off the booze. That's your choice – and no one else's! There are no qualifications for “sharing” eg. you do not need to have 'done' the programme, reached a certain step, have a sponsor etc in order to talk about your experiences. And of course if you don't want to say a word you don't have to. That's your business.


You can make a contribution to help pay for the expenses of running the meeting and maybe towards other costs incurred by AA in “carrying the message”. e.g. general service office, telephone service etc. Or then again maybe you don't feel like giving – in which case you don't have to. That's your choice. But at least don't take any money OUT of the pot!


You can help out at meetings right from the start. But if you don't want to and would rather just sit and listen (and share maybe) then you can do that as well. Remember – that is YOUR choice! And no one else's.

The programme

Generally this refers to Alcoholics Anonymous “suggested” 12 Step programme. “Suggested” means advised. You may elect to follow this advice. On the other hand you may not. Either way this is your choice and …. NO ONE ELSE'S!


In AA there are no 'experts', 'authorities' or 'bosses'. There are, however, people who think they are! Study guides, work sheets etc are entirely dispensable (including ours!) and none are provided by AA. Circuit speakers, “personalities” (for want of a better word) and gurus are merely the modern day equivalent of 'snake oil purveyors'. If what they promise sounds too good to be true … guess what! It probably is. Remember! While they're busy lecturing the rest of us are just getting on with our lives. Beware of the slick sales pitch because that's precisely what it is! All that glitters is not gold! Or maybe it's just fool's gold! So why buy it!

Sponsorship (see here for some ideas on the subject)

It isn't essential or even necessary for recovery, and no sponsorship is certainly better than bad sponsorship – and there's plenty of that around. If you've stopped drinking and you're getting some insight into your alcohol problem (and some possible solutions) then you're ALREADY ON THE PROGRAMME... and you don't need confirmation from anybody else as to whether you are or you aren't! Don't be in a rush. You've got your whole life to get well and it's better to lay sure foundations now than rush ahead only to have to retrace your steps later. Again if anyone claims they can show you the way to overnight success then remember what we said about it sounding too good to be true. It is!

If you do decide you want a sponsor (and that's your choice not theirs) then here are some things to look out for:

If someone offers to sponsor you (temporary or otherwise) they may have good intentions … or then again they may be control freaks looking for another victim. If in doubt DON'T take up the offer. Take your time and when you have got to know someone (and are confident they are NOT A CONTROL FREAK) then YOU MAY choose to ask them. Take the initiative and remain in control.

Don't give your phone number out to anyone who asks. They may offer their number to you – that's up to them. Again wait until you've got to know somebody before handing over this information. You have the right to privacy.

If, having got a sponsor, you find that they are trying to control any aspect of your life eg. relationships, medical treatment (including medication), therapy (eg. counselling), finances, relationships (sexual or otherwise), employment, dress code (No! We're not kidding here!), which meetings you attend, what time you contact them etc then you have by definition lumbered yourself with a control freak. This is not sponsorship. This is someone playing God! Again … DON'T PANIC – unlumber yourself forthwith... and then it's back to the drawing board! Don't blame yourself for the decision. Put it down to experience and move on.

The same guidelines apply with groups. Most AA meetings are run by members who are there simply to help. They will share their experience, strength and hope with you but the rest is your responsibility. But some meetings are run by groups of people (we call them cults) who want to run your life. Don't let them. Again don't be fooled by appearances. Some of these operations are quite slick and appear impressive. But again … look out for fool's gold. The fake stuff gleams just as prettily but just try and cash it in!


You DON'T have to put up with bullying! You're worth more than that

You DON'T need your life run for you by someone else. That's YOUR responsibility

You have the RIGHT to THINK FOR YOURSELF. Don't let anyone try and undermine that

You have the RIGHT to FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION – don't let anyone try and stifle that

Your HIGHER POWER is your choice – no one else's

It's YOUR PROGRAMME OF RECOVERY that counts! Not theirs!

And finally - we did not escape the tyranny of alcoholism simply to be subjugated by another alcoholic. Freedom is the magic word!

Have fun! (and that IS a suggestion!)


The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Thursday 27 May 2021


Dual Diagnosis Anonymous:


Dual Diagnosis Anonymous is a fellowship of persons who share their experiences, strengths, weaknesses, feelings, fears, and hopes with one another to resolve our dual diagnosis, and/or learn to live at peace with unresolved problems. The only requirement for membership in DDA is a desire to develop healthy addiction-free lifestyles.


DDA is run by a core group of members who have all experienced mental health/substance misuse/dependency issues. We are a self-help/peer support fellowship that support each other to manage our mental health symptoms, address our substance misuse/addiction issues, and move towards fulfilling lives in recovery!


Dual Diagnosis Anonymous has but one primary purpose: to carry its message of hope and recovery to those who still suffer from the effects of a dual diagnosis. We are founded upon the understanding that our recovery is predicated upon hope.


DDA runs regular online and in-person peer support meetings (by trained facilitators) for people who have co-occurring dependency and mental health issues. We run a ‘12 + 5 Step’ recovery programme. Not only that but we offer phoneline support, a WhatsApp group and regular social events that promote fun in recovery!


DDA’s website address:




Note: We neither endorse nor oppose the above organisation


The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Joys of Recovery?

Healthy sponsorship boundaries

Note: We neither endorse nor oppose the above organisation


The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Newbury (Berkshire) UK meetings

Worrying stuff! 

Two meetings to avoid, both in West Berkshire:

Wednesday 6.30pm
Bishops Green Village Hall,
Beech Road,
Bishop’s Green,
North Sydmonton,
RG20 4AD

Portal Hall,
Church Lane,
RG20 9HX. Doors open at 6.30pm. Meeting from 7pm to 8.15pm. 

Former and current attendees/members of both meetings are reporting the following practices:

    Strong prohibitions against using medication of any kind, including those prescribed by medical doctors for depression and other mental illness.  
    Strong prohibitions against the use of NHS and private counselling for issues which are not related to alcoholism.

    Telling people how to conduct their relationships with their partners and in some cases, ordering people to break up with their partners.

    Telling people that the Steps protect from COVID 19 transmission and visiting each others’ homes during lockdown without any protective masks or gloves.
    Telling newcomers in particular that people in service in AA re exempt from both the Rule of Six and the Maximum of 15 rule. This exposes newcomers to a potential fine and criminal record.

    There is a very strong link with a local religious sect with fairly extreme views on matters which are not related to AA at all. A small number of people “at the top” of both meetings attend some sort of religious meeting weekly or twice weekly where some pretty extreme views are preached. Newcomers who are “strong enough” are encouraged to begin attending this religious group in addition to the two named AA meetings and in some cases, break off contact with some or most family members.

Thanks to our contributor

The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Tuesday 14 January 2020

Narcissists - AA's got some - and a lot of them become cult sponsors. How to deal with them!

And of course there's always the “walk away” option!


The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Monday 11 November 2019

Drunk with power: Inside a rogue Syracuse AA group

Comment: This group exemplifies the kind of conduct characteristic of a cult (although standing at the more extreme end of the spectrum). However plenty of other examples can be found within AA where groups are personality driven (usually by individuals exhibiting narcissistic traits), micro-managed and displaying exploitative and abusive conduct mostly directed at newcomers. Such conduct (and groups) should not be tolerated


The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Monday 28 October 2019

AA's Ultraconservatives Invade the Middle East

We quote:

As a newcomer in Alcoholics Anonymous back in the 90’s, I remember being on the lookout for anything that I thought was even remotely cult-ish. I thought if I spotted something, it might just be my ‘get out of AA free card.’ While I needed to get my court card signed and may have even wanted to learn how to control and enjoy my drinking, I sure as hell didn’t want to join a cult or find God. So at the beginning of the meeting when they read the Twelve Traditions and everyone chanted in unison ‘principles before personalities I thought, WTF have I gotten myself into?! The chanting and the holding of hands at the end when the serenity prayer was recited in unison seemed like something straight out of the Jonestown Massacre.

After six more years of hard drinking and sixteen years of sobriety after that (weekends and holidays included) I now realize that our Traditions are actually what prevent us from becoming a cult and that they have actually kept us from going the way of the long defunct Washingtonians and the Oxford Group. So when I heard about the cult-like activities happening here in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries and about how our Traditions were being routinely and systematically violated, I was shocked. If I had even heard rumors about what is currently happening in the Fellowship back then, when I was a newcomer, I would have used it as a ‘get out of AA free card’ for sure.

Like other extremists, the ultra-orthodox among us pine for a time when the ideals that set our spiritual movement in motion were ‘pure.’ They want to ‘get back to basics’ by working the AA program in the way they believe it was before it became ‘corrupted’ and ‘diluted’ by Hazelden Treatment Centers, self-help books and new age philosophy. Like all zealots, the leaders of these groups in AA claim a lineage to the founding members which they say makes their way, the only true path to salvation.

And now, thanks to a host of workshops and local proselytes in the Persian Gulf who preach a lock-step interpretation of the AA doctrine, this form of spiritual extremism has been brought to the Middle East, a corner of the world all to familiar with those of their ilk. What’s sadly ironic is that while these hardliners from the Pacific & Atlantic Groups in our midst long to get ‘back to basics’ and consider themselves a ‘By The Book Group,’ they have actually pushed aside one of our main textbooks, The Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions, in order to do so. They are violating, in both letter and spirit, most of our Traditions including One, Two, Five, Eight, Ten, Eleven and Twelve.

Tradition One states that our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on AA unity. While their intentions may be good, these fanatics are destroying the most cherished quality our society has - unity. They are doing this by differentiating themselves from what they call ‘mainstream AA’ or ‘AA Lite.’ While most of us identity ourselves as ‘alcoholics’ or ‘recovering alcoholics’ they are, on the other hand, self-professed ‘recovered alcoholics.’ They are ‘recovered’ because unlike the rest of us who are just recovering, they are actually working the program as it was supposed to be worked, like they did back in 1935 (or even pre-Big Book) when it was ‘pure.’ This creates an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ dynamic that gives these sponsorship cult members a false sense of spiritual superiority, of ‘better than’ recovery that is splitting our Fellowship apart.

Tradition Two states that for our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority - a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern. Within these extremist groups in AA, sponsors govern the lives of their sponsees. If obligations are not met, calls not made at exact times or detailed, daily inventories not delivered into inboxes when they should be, there are punishments to be doled out, usually in the form of the sponsee not being able to proceed with the step he is on or not allowing him to move on to the next step, a sort of spiritual blackmail that governs their lives by their ultimate authority - their sponsor. Sponsors in other Fellowships such as NA are also strictly forbidden.

Tradition FIve states that each group has but one primary purpose - to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers. These ‘back to basics’ groups in AA violate this tradition by insisting that their sponsees buy workbooks that are not conference approved literature. The workbooks, may not be photocopied nor may they be passed on to another alcoholic. All sales proceeds go to their maker, not to AA as a whole. Carrying its message to the alcoholic who still suffers does not mean selling it to him for profit. Nor does it mean targeting newcomers, the most psychologically vulnerable of all which is what one ‘by the book’ group is doing in a major metropolitan area by falsely advertising their praetorian gatherings as beginner meetings (the only two such meetings listed for this particular area).

Tradition Eight states that Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional but our service centers may employ special workers. These splinter groups within AA seem to have forgotten the ancient words used in this tradition, ‘freely ye have received, freely give’ and that ‘at the point of professionalism, money and spirituality do not mix.’ Leaders of these fundamentalist groups often set up foundations with slightly modified AA symbols on them to hoodwink the unsuspecting and channel profits from the sale of their workbooks, personal programs (and even an AA board game in the case of Wayne B.) into their pockets. They fly around the world, all expenses paid on the AA speaker circuit - famous in their anonymity. In so professionalizing the 12th Step, they have defeated our singleness of purpose, opting instead to exploit the AA name for personal prestige, power and money.

Tradition Ten states that Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name out never be drawn into public controversy. These sponsorship cults seem to have forgotten the fate of the Washingtonians, a precursor to AA. While they once had a membership of over 100,000, their opinions on outside issues destroyed them. In much the same way, these sepratist groups in AA have an opinion on a variety of outside issues that range from the very dangerous practice of non-medical personnel restricting the use of antidepressants and other prescribed medications for members who suffer from mental illness to policing the use of profanity and even telling sponsees how they ought to dress.

Tradition Eleven states that our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films. Leaders of these sponsorship cults are heavy self-promoters with their own websites, foundations and self-help books. The essence of this tradition is self-denial, not self aggrandisement as practiced by those on the AA speaker circuit selling their own version of recovery.

Tradition Twelve states that anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities. These AA gurus lead cults of personality that routinely break anonymity by using their first and last names at meeting level. While only using their first names and last initials at the level of press, radio, films and on social media, they have nevertheless become household names in AA and in the case of Clancy I., Wayne B. and Wally P. deity like figures within the Fellowship. Like all cult leaders they demand absolute submission and compliance to their dogma. Any resistance is dismissed as self-will which will inevitably doom the one rebelling to surely drink again. These practices are the antithesis of Tradition Twelve. Just as we couldn’t afford to have any self-appointed messiahs representing AA when the Twelve Traditions were written in 1952, nor can we afford to have them with us today.

Therefore, for the sake of unity and for our own collective survival, groups that violate any of the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous in word or in spirit should not be associated or linked with those who do not. Any use of the AA name, logo or listing on an AA website should be banned by those breaking the Traditions that bind us together.”

Comment: All sounds VERY familiar

Our thanks to our correspondent

The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous

Suggested reading:  https://aaminority.blogspot.com/