The Cross Addicted Mind

On August 25, 2018 Deirdre S. spoke at the International Conference of Secular AA. What follows is the written material she prepared in advance of the talk. 

My Name is Deirdre and I am a Cross-Addicted Alcoholic. I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous because I had a desire to stop drinking and because I say I am.

When I put down tobacco, marijuana, and anonymous sex, I wanted to believe that I had stopped all the vices that I needed to. But from my spot on the sofa, drinking alone because that was the only “safe” way to drink, I couldn’t see a better life ahead. In a way I was letting go of other things SO that I could continue drinking. No more cigarettes in bars. No more crying over commercials because I was high. No more messy and dangerous pick-ups — tempting Mr. Goodbar to bash my head in. So, I was good! Right? What else could there be? Life should have gotten better, shouldn’t it?

However, I was still living in an alcoholic haze. I was still going to work, exhausted by passing out instead of sleeping. Still surrounded by a cloud of anger at myself for having yet another hangover.

Until I stopped drinking, I couldn’t find my way out of the trench I lived in.

So, I went to an acupuncturist and stopped drinking. I was more than two months off booze and still resisting coming into the Rooms because, you know, I thought I was too good for A.A. What a laugh!

I finally went to a meeting, and finally put my hand up instead of observing. I was sober about 90 days. After that, I was talking to the person who had urged me into A.A.. I described how sick I felt because I had consumed the better part of a large pizza the night before. She said, “Well, maybe you’ve hit bottom with eating issues now.” Basically saying: There’s a meeting for that!

I went on to find out that there seemed to be a meeting out there for many of my problems – even the ones I didn’t realize I had.

Of course, alcoholism and addiction are no jokes.

88,000 people die a year from alcohol-related causes in the US.

72,000 people died in the US died from drug overdoses in 2017.
47,520 or 66% are prescription or illegal opioid-related deaths. That’s 133 people a day.

480,000 people die each year from tobacco use or second-hand smoke (41,000).

Compulsive gamblers commit suicide at twice the rate of other addicts.

So, who’s with me? Anybody use any other substances or behaviors in addition to alcohol?

What is going on in the brain when an addictive substance or behavior is engaged in?

It used to be all you had to know was that there was a neurotransmitter called Dopamine and that your brain had dopamine receptors. Ah, Dopamine. How we miss you the simplicity of you.

Dopamine was an easy name for drunks to remember. Now you have to know about a protein called Delta FosB. That almost sounds like an action flick, doesn’t it? Turns out that when you have a whole lot of the protein Delta FosB you can get “addiction related” changes to your brain specifically in the brain’s reward center. This over-abundance of Delta FosB promotes the “self-administration” of reward stimulation.[i]

The brain has a reward center. In a very real way it’s what keeps us alive as a species. Fresh food good. Rotten food bad. It’s what keeps us motivated and desiring the rewarding stimuli. Dopamine is involved in this reward system. It is a neurotransmitter. That means that one part of the brain releases dopamine to send a message to another part of the brain. Dopamine is released in anticipation of rewarding satiating experiences.

When there is damage in the brain pathways that communicate the reward stimuli, animals loose motivation. Addiction can alter this reward pathway in various ways, right down to changes in how your DNA expresses itself.

 This loss of motivation can happen if you’re not getting a flood of dopamine or if it not getting to its receptors. Let’s call them dopamine-shaped holes. Addictive substances or behaviors can cause an anticipatory release of dopamine. These substances or behaviors can also cause an increase in dopamine release. But, they can also shutdown reuptake neurons, the dopamine-shaped holes, so none of the messages about that good “whatever” that’s coming gets into that other part of the brain. Dopamine has a double edge because it is controlling desire and motivation. No desire or motivation, no hunting or gathering or farming or grocery shopping.

When it’s just working and not being overstimulated by alcohol, nicotine, cannabinoids, cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, or gambling we emphasize the activities that keep us alive.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine said in 2011, “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” [ii] This definition includes substances and behaviors as addictions. Brian wise they are not identical, but all very similar.

My brained learned early on that when I was feeling bad, I could change that emotion by consuming some substance or engaging in some behavior. My first substance was sugar. We had the sugar dispenser that was like what you might see in a diner. You flip it over and the sparkling white crystals of happiness poured out. I my case right into my mouth. I added sugar to Frosted Flakes. That was the one substance I could get as a kid. When I got a little older and could get alcohol, I already knew what to do! (Holding bottle up and swigging it.) Glug, glug, glug.

In terms of the brain, what I was doing was reinforcing the thought pathway that ended with me taking the action of eating sugar and eventually drinking. A thought pathway is really a series of nerve cells linked together by a bridge called a synapse. Each time my thoughts races down those pathways the synapses get more efficient. At the end of the thought pathway is an action. In my case one of the actions was to drink.

My day might start with a problem that feels makes me feel bad. My immediate desire was to not feel that emotion. The solution is at the other end of the well-worn thought pathway. The reward center gets triggered. There is a burst of dopamine. Now I’m ready to take action and that action is to get the substance I want or do the behavior that I’ve learned will smother the bad feeling. I no longer suffer from the pain of the original problem.

Let’s say I’ve picked up alcohol and I’m off on a tear, drinking until I run out of money or run out of people to buy me drinks or puke. Next morning, I’m hungover. I feel angry at myself for drinking until drunk … again. I spend part of the day hydrating and the other part of the day beating myself up for drinking. How stupid! Why didn’t I stop? I’m disgusting.

These negative thoughts are so horrible that I don’t want to feel them. An idea tears down at well-worn thought pathway triggering my reward center. There’s a burst of dopamine. A beer will make me feel better! That first beer leads to a second and a shot, I mean why not? And off I go. I’m stuck in a circle of addiction because I guarantee you I will hate myself in the morning.

And it takes all I’ve got to find a way out, to stop that thought from going down that pathway leading to that action. Problem is that when I stopped the substance, I was getting less stimulation of the reward system. So, I replace the dropped substance or behavior with something else (like food or porn or working long numbing hours).

If I replace the substance or behavior with something that leads to overuse and regret, I’m still running on the same…

You get it. You may have been there, like the little guy who got thrown off. Maybe that he’s a candidate for Al-Anon.

 Our addictive brains are very good at remembering that thrill of pleasure. It’s a reward. For me the opening of a beer always seemed like a reward.

The brain’s pleasure centers can desensitize after overstimulation. Then it seems like the only answer is MORE!

But, and this is key, we CAN replace the substance or behavior with something that is not harmful.

For a second I want to talk about the brain and why A.A. happened to work.

Addiction thought pathways lead to actions, like using the substance or behavior.

Many of us have seen the “ACTION” sign in meetings.

A.A. emphasizes taking the “next right step.” The next right action.

The work we do in meetings, listening and sharing, even just showing up, is strengthening the thought pathway that leads to actions that don’t involve drinking.  

Here is a new scenario. Something makes me feel bad. The thought that I want to stop feeling bad races down my thought pathway, but I’ve created a literal new branch, a sharp turn in my brain that has a different action at the end. So now I don’t use the substance or behavior. Instead I go to a meeting. Usually after the meeting I feel better, sometimes I don’t, but I don’t have that regret about using. 

Another amazing thing about the brain and A.A. is that meditation changes the reward system just like an addictive substance or behavior does. Mediation can change the brain in a better direction. I’d guess that activities like helping our fellow humans does the same. All of these actions are making new connections and thought pathways. Learning or relearning how to be social in a safer way makes new connections. Meetings where we hear other people’s stories reinforce what we have learned. Those healthier thought pathways are getting more use. The thoughts go down them more easily.

The other things that work to change the reward system are exercise and going into a stimulating environment. The best choice is not a bar.

As early as 1939, many family members attended A.A. meetings alongside their alcoholic spouse, or parent, or child. Dr. Bob’s wife, Annie was said to have, “comforted the grief-stricken wife when she said, ‘Come in my dear. You’re with friends now.’”[iii] Annie recognized “that alcoholism is a disease that affects the entire family and that there needed to be a program to help the entire family recover.”[iv]

Lois, Bill Wilson’s wife, and Annie had been talking to the nonalcoholic family members in the so-called “coffee and cake” meetings. They had been using the Twelve Steps as a way for families to get back to normal. Out of that work the Family Group started.

According to Bill, “One of the largest, most vigorous, and best accepted of the early family centers developed in Toronto. There they wrought so well that many A.A. groups in the area customarily invited Family Group speakers to their meetings. By 1950, the Toronto Family Group had created such a wide and deep impression that their speakers were featured at the Cleveland International A.A. convention.”[v]

Annie died of a massive heart attack in June 1949[vi] before these early efforts morphed into Al-Anon Family Groups which was officially founded in 1951.[vii]  The reason for going through the grunt-work and expense and the stress of founding a new fellowship was that these families were not alcoholics. And as we know, Alcoholics Anonymous is for alcoholics. Some of the family members might have also qualified to be members of A.A., but because alcoholism affects the whole family, they qualified to be members of Al-Anon.

Right from the get-go, Alcoholics Anonymous had the problem of who is a member. It took two years before A.A. allowed a woman, Florence Rankin, to join and four years before there was a non-protestant.[viii]

At the early meetings in Akron, Ohio there were people who coming around who wanted to stop using drugs. Some of them drank and some of them did not. They came to A.A. meetings to ask for help because they saw A.A. working. As early as 1944 A.A.’s co-founder Bill Wilson discussed a separate fellowship for drug addicts.[ix] 

One of the early founders of Narcotics Anonymous was Jimmy Kinnon. He got clean and sober in part by attending A.A. meetings in early 1950. In 1953 a number of members of A.A. got together for meetings that concentrated on addiction rather than simply alcohol. Kinnon’s idea was that alcohol and drugs were the symptoms of the addicts’ way of thinking and attitudes when not using.[x] In September 1953, Narcotics Anonymous got permission to use A.A.’s 12 steps and 12 traditions.

To be a member of A.A. all you need is the “desire to stop drinking.” Then you need to declare yourself a member. Those are the requirements. Even though it’s seems simple enough, there were early days when that had to be sorted out. As I mentioned before, family members who weren’t alcoholics wanted to be members. Nonalcoholic friends of A.A. who wanted to help the group also wanted to be members. That’s the way that other movements and organizations worked. But that’s not the A.A. way.

Tradition Three: The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.

Tradition Four: Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.

Tradition Five: Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.[xi]

I never imagined that I’d be quoting Bill Wilson, but here I go. This is from Bill talking in 1957. I found the talk on Youtube.[xii]  It’s his language, but ’ve done some editing.

Now we’re running into what we call the dual-purpose groups. And we’re running into this question of what are we going to do with people who have related problems? Sex recovery clubs. Narcotics recovery clubs. Gambling recover clubs. Divorce recover clubs. Weight recover clubs. Neurotic recovery clubs.

We got people with all those problems, I guess I got a lot of them myself. I am a drunk and you’re a drunk. So, the primary basis of my identification with you is the hell of a time I had drinking and the wonderful time I’ve had getting old. Which has involved, however, with dealing with some of these underlying problems which we already had.

We got a lot of people in A.A. who have had problems with pills and with morphine, genuine addicts. They joined us because they were also alcoholics, but naturally having had the addiction problem too, they know the awful agony of that, they want to carry this message to the pure straight addict. So, in some cases, they’ve tried to bring those people to A.A. meetings and bring them into full membership.

A.A. is for drunks, no matter what complications the drunks have. The only thing we care about is are you a drunk and do you want to get over it? We’ll stick to that.

Now comes a guy with a narcotic problem who comes to an A.A. group and says he wants to belong. Well, under group autonomy this group can do about it what it likes. You can say to him, “we only deal with alcoholics here.” Or you can say well you can sit in an open meeting and maybe you’ll find a few friends around who also have narcotics problem who can help you start an narcotics group.

Or maybe we’re going to put you up on the platform and you can give a narcotics testimony and we’re going to put you on the committee and take you on in. This last-mentioned course just doesn’t work for everyone. Because if a straight narcotic is to becomes a member he has to be able to do A.A. 12-step work. He has to be capable of doing A.A. committee work. He has to be capable of making an A.A. pitch from the platform and how the hell can he if he’s a narcotic? He can’t.

So, the responsibilities of being an A.A. member are mentioned by Bill. A.A. step work. A.A. committee work. A.A. pitch or qualification as we call it now. Not everyone does step work. Not everyone does committee work. And not everyone does a qualification. But you can see if a recovering opioid addict wanted to do them and she was working with a newcomer who is trying to not pick up a drink, the opioid addict might not know what to say. A recovering alcoholic might know better what to say.

You can see that if my only experience with addiction and recovery was an eating disorder, where I am still was required to eat every day, but not too much or too little, I might have a problem with sharing my experience, strength, and hope with someone who had to give up drinking, one day at a time.

As I researched for this talk, I saw that some members of some A.A. meetings are feeling overwhelmed with “addicts” in the rooms. Sometimes this was because there are only 12-Step meetings in their area. Sometimes it was because treatment centers sent over their clients and there are a lot of people who are cross-addicted or addicted pain killers filling up their facilities and their bank accounts. Because NA meetings are harder to find and because there is a philosophy that “a drug is a drug is a drug” mental health and addiction counselors see A.A. meetings functioning and believe we should be there to serve these populations as well.

 I also saw that sometimes the recovering alcoholics looked at addicts and seemed to think that they were better than them. So, there are some issues there.

Within the mandate of keeping to our “singleness of purpose,” there is an opportunity for people to come to our meetings. At an open meeting anyone can come. We as alcoholics have a right to organize ourselves. We have a right to closed meetings, if we choose. And I understand that because we have secular/no prayer meetings and that few other 12-step programs have them, we might think of ourselves as under a special obligation. That special obligation is to keep widening the door to alcoholics who are still “sick and suffering” be they signally or cross-addicted. I believe that we in New York need to have more open meetings. I’ll bet that’s true in a lot of places.

Think about this, 10% of the adult population in the United States drinks more than half of the alcohol consumed in any given week. That top 10%, or 24 million adults, drink an average of 10 alcoholic beverages per day. For every one of us in this room who is saying “Hey, I didn’t drink that much,” there’s someone sitting near you who made up for it. Thirty percent of the population didn’t drink at all, so the other 60% drink an average of 3 drinks PER WEEK. These numbers are from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions from 2006.[xiii] Twenty-four million adults is a lot of potential alcoholics. That’s a lot of work for us to be doing.

When I wrote the proposal for this talk, I believed that “Singleness of purpose” was unfair and outdated. But that was based on my own lack of understanding. “Singleness of purpose” is a focus and a mandate. It’s not the ignorance of how things are now. Our present generation hasn’t reinvented addiction. It’s true that right now there is greater recognition in society that there are a lot of substances and behaviors to be addicted to, like smart phones, video games, or my own “go to” when I want to feel nothing Freecell solitaire.

Cross-addiction existed in the 1930s. Yes, there are more things with more bells and loud whistles. And there is corporate influence. If more than half your profits come from 10% of the population, then advertising and sponsoring fun events where drinking is encouraged helps your bottom line. Keeping people drinking is life or death to these alcohol producing corporations. There is also big pharma, big tobacco, Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Xbox, Amazon, EBay, app-designers who profit from advertising, and others who depend on our brain’s reward system being triggered again and again. In meetings we are asked to focus on alcohol. That’s not saying “You, Deirdre with your many addictive behaviors, can’t be a member … or you have to shut up about how your problems and challenges trigger all sorts of unhealthy emotion-avoidance behaviors.”

 Bill Wilson mused, “Why did A.A. finally drop all its membership regulations? Why did we leave it to each newcomer to decide himself whether he was an alcoholic and whether he should join us? Why did we dare to say, contrary to the experience of society and government everywhere, that we would neither punish or deprive any A.A. membership, that we must never compel anyone to pay anything, believe anything, or conform to anything?”[xiv]

How does the above square with delisting of Toronto’s meetings and the subsequent victorious case before Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario by Larry K.? If we look at what it took to stop the threat of delisting meetings in New York it came down to Tradition Three and Five about the primary purpose and the posting of a different version of the steps. It came down to the use of the word “addict” in our meeting script. At the time it was very painful to concede and remove these two items from the website.

But in studying the traditions and the history of the “singleness of purpose,” I’ve come to understand that the motivation for demanding changes might not have been prejudice against secular/no prayer meetings, but a protection of both A.A. and our right to exist within it as full members. There was and is a tendency within A.A. that still has trouble excepting secular meetings. The victory in front of the Human Rights Tribunal pushed the needle forward and made Greater Toronto Area Intergroup live up to A.A. principals.

In Tradition Five it says, “There is another reason for this singleness of purpose. It is the great paradox of A.A. that we know we can seldom keep the precious gift of sobriety unless we give it away.”[xv] Giving it away is a totally different paradigm than the corporations who seek to profit from manipulating the amount of nicotine in cigarettes or creating candy-flavored of tobacco vapor or marijuana lollypops to create and maintain a devoted customer base.

Singleness of purpose doesn’t simply cover what we do in any one meeting or what anyone talks about. As long as the group conscious is open to having people talk about whatever is driving them to or away from a drink, everyone should be cool with it. But there are other issues that I think many of us agree on. A.A. as an organization doesn’t run hospitals or rehabs. They are not into amassing large amounts of money. A.A. was mostly broke for years and stuck to its decision to be self-supporting rather than accepting huge sums from outside interests. Mostly this was because they didn’t want to be pushed around by people with deep pockets. My experience with various political groups is that the issue of money always seems to get in the way and break up the group.

We need A.A. to survive. We should keep that as our own singleness of purpose.

One reason why we as secular alcoholics might decide to be flexible with singleness of purpose is because we have experienced being pushed out, our meetings not listed, or told that we aren’t doing it right because many of us do not use the concept of a higher power to mean G-O-D of any type.

But experience tells me that secular A.A. meeting can lose focus on alcohol as can any A.A. meeting.

There was a group of recovering heroin addicts who came into my home group and didn’t believe in God. They were looking for secular recovery. N.A., they told us was very religious. Most all of them also had a drinking problem or drinking set them off and straight into their dealer’s arms for a hit. So we let them in. They went on to try and form a secular N.A. meeting, but it didn’t really go anywhere … YET. I expect that just like the success of early A.A., the success of the secular meetings within A.A. will reflect into other fellowships.  

It’s like another f***ing opportunity for growth. All of these meetings might not have existed if A.A. hadn’t stuck to it guns and said we are here for alcoholics. All that recovery might not have happened.

If someone who is simply a food addict goes to an A.A, meeting, they can still be in denial about their food issues because we, in general, don’t discuss obsessive behavior with food. They will identify with some of the ways we talk, but there can be a little reservation that says, “I’m not them.” Instead, if they show up at a meeting that addresses addictive behaviors around food, they will learn from others who have their same problem.

It partly comes down to the question: Is A.A. Growing or Shrinking?

From A.A.’s own tally of its membership, they are shrinking. Joe C. wrote a fantastic article that has been posted on and follow-up blog entry about the numbers of people in A.A. The numbers are done the same way each year and leave much to be desired. But they are all we have.

Worldwide it would appear that in 2001 membership peaked at 2.2 million and as of the 2017 General Services Membership survey was down to 1,962,499. That’s down by about 10%. That’s significant. There are many factors that might be at play. There has been an explosion in for-profit rehabs that are advertised on TV. The number of people seeking information and support for sobriety on-line is huge. Many of them might not go to a meeting.  Joe mentioned a study of bowling groups and how it appeared that the tendency in the U.S. was for people to skip activities that make them get together with their fellow human beings. I’d say the each innovation in communication technology might have caused less community in-person engagement.

But Alcoholics Anonymous discussion group on Facebook (not affiliated with A.A.) has 36,289 members. Don’t ask me how many people find recovery on-line and don’t go to meetings because there is no way to know. When A.A. was first tracking the sales of the Big Book they didn’t know if they were going to individuals might be getting sober on their own or groups. And anyone who looks at the statistics of A.A.’s recover rate knows that people come and go and we don’t know if they are drinking once they disappear.  

I don’t think that A.A. is ready to leave the stage quite yet. I’d say that the recovery community and the 12-Step approach is still growing and that A.A. is relevant because it is made up of members who are relevant. The internet has been a way for many people to check out A.A. and sobriety from their homes. I greatly prefer face-to-face meetings. But that’s what I’ve been seeking my whole life, human contact.

Before anyone asks me, I thought I’d just throw up the numbers for the Growth of Secular Meetings.

It’s life and death for both the alcoholics and the addicts. So what is the right thing to do?

I know it sounds foolish, but I think at the center of how do address the question of who can be a member of A.A. is helped in two ways. One is a loving and respectful response to the non-alcoholic addict of any type. And two is more open meetings. Giving the cold shoulder to a fellow sufferer (whatever compulsive behavior or substance) who stumbles into an A.A. meeting isn’t living up to our principals. Nor can we allow A.A. to be diverted from helping alcoholics. In New York City we have often had family members of atheist or agnostic alcoholics show up wanting to help their loved ones. It is our service to them to show by our actions that there is real recovery for anyone who wants it.

Bill said it himself in Tradition Three that “no one had to conform to anything” to be a member.

Love, tolerance, and an open heart to all “out there” who still suffer. A safe respectful space for every alcoholic even — a cross-addicted atheist alcoholic like me — is what we’ve been working for.

Thank you.

THIS IS A CLOSED MEETING OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. In support of A.A.’s singleness of purpose, attendance at closed meetings is limited to persons who have a desire to stop drinking. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, you are welcome to attend this meeting. We ask that when discussing our problems, we confine ourselves to those problems as they relate to alcoholism.[xx]

THIS IS AN OPEN MEETING OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. We are glad you are all here — especially newcomers. In keeping with our singleness of purpose and our Third Tradition which states that “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking,” we ask that all who participate confine their discussion to their problems with alcohol.[xxi]

“We were resolved to admit nobody to A.A. but that hypothetical class of people we termed ‘pure alcoholics.’ . . .  Maybe this sounds comical now. . . . Well, we were frightened. . . .  After all, isn’t fear the true basis of intolerance?. . .  How could we then guess that all those fears were to prove groundless?”[xxii]

Mental health workers, however, have great difficulty with A.A.’s Fifth Tradition: “Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.” Since mental health workers often admire the success and geographic availability of Alcoholics Anonymous, they understandably wish to broaden its membership to include other substance abusers. They also note that pure alcohol abuse is becoming less frequent, and polydrug abuse more common. In addition, mental health workers sometimes view singleness of purpose as outmoded and exclusionary. They worry that the Tradition is a holdover from the early days of A.A. and that the young, the poor and the minority with a criminal record will be barred. Besides, when there is no professional drug treatment center or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) group easily available, mental health workers find it hard to understand why A.A., with its tradition of Twelfth Step work, won’t step in and fill the breach.[xxiii]

What are to obligations of membership in A.A? There are none. What are the expectations of membership? So many.

Now that I’ve argued that in the brain addictions to substances and addictive behaviors looks very similar what can be done about it?

List and foundation dates of other 12-Step Groups
Alcoholics Anonymous — June 10, 1935
Narcotics Anonymous — Mid 1930s & 1953
Al-Anon — 1951
Alateen — 1957
Gamblers Anonymous — 1957
Overeaters Anonymous — 1960
Neurotics Anonymous — 1964
Debtors Anonymous — 1971
Emotions Anonymous — 1971
Families Anonymous — 1971
Pills Anonymous — 1972
Adult Children of Alcoholics — 1973
Sexual Compulsives Anonymous — 1973 & 1982
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous — 1976
Sex Addicts Anonymous — 1977
COSA (Family & Friends of Sex Addicts Anonymous) — 1977
Sexaholics Anonymous — 1979
Nicotine Anonymous — 1982
Cocaine Anonymous — 1982
Survivors of Incest Anonymous — 1982
Recoveries Anonymous — 1983
Workaholics Anonymous — 1983
Co-Dependents Anonymous — 1986
Food Addicts Anonymous — 1987
Marijuana Anonymous — 1989
Clutters Anonymous — 1989
Sexual Recovery Anonymous — 1993
Crystal Meth Anonymous — 1994
Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous — 1998
On-Line Gamers Anonymous — 2002
Eating Disorders Anonymous — 2002
Heroin Anonymous — 2004
Underearners Anonymous — 2005
Spenders Anonymous — 2005?

Also, by letting go of personal ambition within A.A. “each member becomes an active guardian of our fellowship.”[xxiv]


[ii] American Society of Addiction Medicine. Public Policy Statement: Definition of Addiction.

[iii] “Al-Anon: Then and Now,” Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Virginia Beach, VA, 

[iv] Borchert, William G., The Lois Wilson Story: When Love is not Enough, The Authorized Biography of the Co-Founder of Al-Anon, Hazelton Publishing, 2005.

[v] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A brief History of A.A., Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. New York, 1957, page 23.

[vi] Borchert, William G., The Lois Wilson Story: When Love is not Enough, The Authorized Biography of the Co-Founder of Al-Anon, Hazelton Publishing, 2005.

[vii] Borchert, William G., The Lois Wilson Story: When Love is not Enough, The Authorized Biography of the Co-Founder of Al-Anon, Hazelton Publishing, 2005.




[xi] Wilson, Bill Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.



[xiv] Wilson, Bill, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., page 141.

[xv] Wilson, Bill, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., page 151.





[xx] Alcoholics Anonymous Statement Card, The 1987 General Service Conference.

[xxi] Alcoholics Anonymous Statement Card, The 1987 General Service Conference.

[xxii] Wilson, Bill Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.

[xxiii] by George E. Valiant, M. D. Class A (nonalcoholic) trustee A.A. General Service Board From Box 459, published bimonthly the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous, February/March 2003 ( )

[xxiv] Wilson, Bill, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., page 183.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Steve K
3 years ago

Thanks for this article Deirdre! You’ve clearly put a great deal of thought and effort into it. Here’s a link to what I think is a complimentary essay in relation to drug talk/addicts in AA meetings. We have similar views it seems.  ‘Drug talk in AA’.


Chris G.
Chris G.
3 years ago

Outstanding, thoughtful, intuitive, meaningful work Dierdre.  Truly impressive…

Chris G.