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For the Victims of Addiction

O blessed Lord, you ministered to all who came to you: look with compassion upon all who through addiction have lost their health and freedom. Restore to them the assurance of your unfailing mercy; remove from them the fears that best them; strengthen them in the work of their recovery; and to those who care for them, give patient understanding and persevering love.

– from the Book of Common Prayer, p. 831 *

Men and women of all faiths are invited to attend the Tuesday Night Group of Alcoholics Anonymous, which meets Tuesday nights at 8 PM. This open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous has been welcome at Trinity since 1956, and many lives have been changed there.

AA got its name from its first book titled Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism, informally known as “the Big Book of AA.” Their 12 step program is a model for recovery from any addiction.

Now claiming more than 2 million members, AA was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith (Bill W. and Dr. Bob) in Akron, Ohio. With other early members Wilson and Smith developed AA’s Twelve Step program of spiritual and character development. AA’s Twelve Traditions were introduced in 1946 to help AA stay unified and grow.

While Alcoholics Anonymous is the first of what are commonly called “12-step programs” there are groups for every addiction, including Gamblers Anonymous, Over Eaters, Narcotics, and more which don’t currently meet at Trinity but that can be found in the phone book and on the Internet.

More information can be found by going to AA.org or the telephone book.

The Twelve Steps of AA The Twelve Traditions of AA

From the AA Preamble, Copyright © by the A.A. Grapevine, Inc.; reprinted with permission:

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

The following is redacted from a speech given by the Rev. Sam Shoemaker in 1955:

During the weekend of the Fourth of July last, I attended one of the most remarkable conventions I ever expect to attend. It was a gathering in St. Louis of about five thousand members of the movement called Alcoholics Anonymous. The occasion was the celebration of their twentieth anniversary.

As I lived and moved among these men and women for three days, I was moved as I have seldom been moved in my life. It happens that I have watched the unfolding of this movement with more than usual interest, for its real founder and guiding spirit, Bill W., found his initial spiritual answer at Calvary Church in New York , when I was rector there, in 1935. Having met two men unmistakable alcoholics, who had found release from their difficulty, he was moved to seek out the same answer for himself. But he went further. Being of a foraging and inquiring mind, he began to think there was some general law operating here, which could be made to work, not in two men’s lives only, but in two thousand or two million. He set to work to find out what it was. He consulted psychiatrists, doctors, clergy, and recovered alcoholics to discover what it was.

[Now] the number of them now is beyond count. Prof. Austin McCormick, of Berkeley, California, former Commissioner of Correction in the city of New York, who was also with us at the St. Louis Convention, said once in my hearing that AA may “prove to be one of the greatest movements of all time.” That was years ago. Subsequent facts support his prophecy.

* Trivia

According to Answers.com, the Prayer for the Victims of Addiction “was written by Rev. William B. Van Wyck. It was initially a benediction for a conference on alcoholism which Father Bill was attending. He wrote it just a few minutes before it was needed – pretty much on the back of an envelope as he staffed a registration desk. Someone just ran up to him and said they needed a benediction, so he wrote one right then. It was later included in the Book of Common Prayer – probably a polished up version of it.”

Note: The AA logo pictured is of the Nepal Group of Alcoholics Anonymous, in case you’re ever at the top of Mount Everest!

What is Al-Anon

Al-Anon meetings are held regularly throughout the area. Please check their website for local meetings.

Al-Anon is the parallel program for for families and friends whose lives are affected by their loved ones in AA.

Al-Anon/Alateen, known as Al-Anon Family Groups, is an international “fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems.”

They “help families of alcoholics by practicing the Twelve Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic.”

For over 50 years, Al-Anon (which includes Alateen for younger members) has been offering hope and help to families and friends of alcoholics. It is estimated that each alcoholic affects the lives of at least four other people…alcoholism is truly a family disease. No matter what relationship you have with an alcoholic, whether they are still drinking or not, all who have been affected by someone else’s drinking can find solutions that lead to serenity in the Al-Anon/Alateen fellowship.

Al-Anon was formed in 1951 by Lois Wilson, wife of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) co-founder Bill Wilson. She recognized the need for such an organization as family members living with AA members began to identify their own pathologies associated with their family members’ alcoholism.

In Lois’s Story, she explained why, as the spouse of an alcoholic, she also required treatment:

After a while I began to wonder why I was not as happy as I ought to be, since the one thing I had been yearning for all my married life [Bill's sobriety] had come to pass. Then one Sunday, Bill asked me if I was ready to go to the meeting with him. To my own astonishment as well as his, I burst forth with “Damn your old meetings!” and threw a shoe as hard as I could.

This surprising display of temper over nothing pulled me up short and made me start to analyze my own attitudes. … My life’s purpose of sobering up Bill, which had made me feel desperately needed, had vanished. … I decided to strive for my own spiritual growth. I used the same principles as he did to learn how to change my attitudes. … We began to learn that … the partner of the alcoholic also needed to live by a spiritual program.

Also see detachment.