Saturday, November 26, 2011

Taking Inventory of this generation's AA service legacy

The process of inventory taking is as prudent, if not necessary exercise for all of us personally. Groups take inventories and so should service bodies. How has this generation of AA stewards steered the good ship Double-A?
1. How is AA’s reputation? Has it improved or waned in the last 10 or 20 years?
2. How has AA as a whole been doing? Is it growing, shrinking or staying the same?
3. Let us never fear needed change. Certainly we have to discriminate between changes for the worse and changes for the better. But once a need becomes clearly apparent in an individual, in a group, or in AA as a whole, it has long since been found out that we cannot stand still and look the other way. The essence of all growth is a willingness to change for the better and then an unremitting willingness to shoulder whatever responsibility this entails.” Bill W. Grapevine July 1965. This was Bill’s message to us before his death. Do we fear and resist change or embraced it?

AA’s reputation? Friends of AA were everywhere 20 years ago. We had our critics in and out of AA but the public had a generally positive opinion of AA. Just type AA and cult into a search engine and see how many anti-AA youtube videos, blogs and published articles you find. At present there are still over 10,000 treatment centers sending new people our way every month but is that unwavering support or a lack of after-care alternatives?
That brings us to growth/contraction. 1993 was the peak of AA size in terms of members. In a recovery community of 20 million people AA members are about 10% of that. These treatment centers are sending people every month but AA isn’t growing; it hasn’t grown in almost 20 years.
As for question 3, groups more than people, resist change. An informed group conscience will vote to keep things the same more often than move forward. That’s human nature. But it’s also natural to follow addiction all the way to the grave. As individuals we have beaten the odds. Maybe as a group we need to apply the same rigorous devotion to change for the better.
Good luck AA. May the next generation do a better job at adapting to the needs of our members and readying us for those still to come.
Addiction Magazine looks at Toronto Intergroup's resistance to change and refusal to include Agnostic AA groups in their meeting list and website. Check it out here: