Excerpt from Keynote Address of 2017 67th GSC


The following excerpt is from the Keynote Address of the
67th General Service Conference Final Report.

The theme of this year’s Conference is “Supporting Our Future,” and for me there is only one way we can support the future of Alcoholics Anonymous, and that is by embracing the great Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. I say “embrace” because enforcement has never worked in Alcoholics Anonymous; it is only when newcomers see those who came before them embracing the Traditions that they will want to embrace them, too. I am speaking of embracing all Twelve Traditions, not picking and choosing which ones are convenient. You will never win a popularity contest by standing up against a popular idea because your gut tells you it goes against one of our great Twelve Traditions, but it is every A.A. member’s responsibility and the duty of every leader in A.A. to do the same. We don’t embrace them out of fear but rather out of love for Alcoholics Anonymous, the only thing that has worked to arrest our alcoholism.

I told you my name, my service position, and that I am an alcoholic, but let me clearly state what I mean when I say I am an alcoholic. I am not a heavy drinker, a binge drinker, or even someone addicted to alcohol; rather, I suffer from an “allergy” to alcohol, an allergy that is clearly described and defined in two specific chapters in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, “The Doctor’s Opinion” and “More About Alcoholism.” Every time I drink I have a reaction to alcohol that normal people do not; my body tells me I have to and need to keep drinking. On top of this physical compulsion, the next day or night when I grow uncomfortable in my own skin, my mind tells me the only way to feel comfortable again is to have the first drink regardless of the consequences the last time I drank.

The courts might believe they can mandate me to get better, and others feel they can legislate this; some doctors and scientists believe they can invent a vaccination or medicate my recovery. But I have accepted that only a spiritual experience as the result of the Twelve Steps can arrest my alcoholism. I know today that you can’t sentence a spiritual experience, that you can’t legislate a spiritual experience, and that, even as a sponsor, I can’t schedule a spiritual experience. You can simply have a spiritual experience as a result of our Twelve Steps.

Just like the newcomer looks to the more experienced member for help with our Traditions, groups look to districts, districts to assemblies, and assemblies to the General Service Conference and General Service Board to set an example. A.A.’s leaders have a sacred duty to, above all else, embrace all Twelve Traditions. I do not believe we should ever look for a way around a Tradition or try to make something work if it does not feel right. I firmly believe that you can’t ask a newcomer to observe one Tradition while you ignore a few others. I believe it is time for many in Alcoholics Anonymous to stop using the Fourth Tradition to break other Traditions. History shows that the Fourth Tradition was not created to be a veto over the others; rather, it was created to give groups flexibility regarding group “customs.” If any group — including an area assembly, area officers, the General Service Board or service corporations — breaks a Tradition, it is affecting other groups and A.A. as a whole.

—end of excerpt—

William N., General Service Trustee

For continuation of this, and other complete presentations, see your GSR. Every Group should have a single Hard Copy of the Final Report. They should be available for pick-up at the October District 11 meeting.
Online Continuations are planned to become available as they are uploaded. Note that the Online Versions are ‘Anonymity Protected’ and are permissible for Online use.


New Service Material explained…


From Box 459 for Fall of 2017

New Service Material Available

“The General Service Office has developed a new service piece that is now available to the
Fellowship upon request.

“Service material differs from Conference approved literature in that it has not come about through C o n f e r e n c e Advisory Action.

“Service material reflects A.A. group experience as well as specific and timely information that is subject to change.

“The new item (F-211) is titled Safety Card for A.A. Groups and offers statements that can be used at the group level regarding the safety of the group and its members. As noted on the card, ‘Alcoholics Anonymous is a microcosm of the larger society we exist in. As such, problems found in the outside world can also make their way into the rooms. For this reason, groups and members discuss the topic of safety — to raise awareness in the
Fellowship and to seek through sponsorship, workshops and meetings, to create as safe an environment as possible to carry A.A.’s message of hope and recovery to the still-suffering alcoholic.’
“Printed on yellow paper, the six-by-four-inch card has been made available as an optional service piece for those groups who wish to use it, and is available in English, French and Spanish. To obtain service material, including this item, please contact the General Service Office.”


Or contact District 11 or Intergroup for Northern California for your copy.


Click here for your current issue of Box 459.

Delegate’s talk at Conference…


The following is another presentation of the 67th General Service Conference. This one, in its entirety, was by our Delegate, Vikki R.

Safety — An Important Consideration

My name is Vikki, and I am an alcoholic. I currently have the honor to serve as delegate of the California Northern Interior Area, Panel 66. I would like to thank Mary Clare and Rick for the loving invitation to speak today.

I thought it was interesting at the General Service Conference last year that the original presentation topic was   “Safety in A.A. — Our Responsibility.” Then, one of my favorite Class A trustees, Judge Ivan Lemelle, came to the mike and expressed concern about the public’s perception of what “our responsibility” really means and that perhaps it could be a liability issue. The Conference presentation idea was changed to its current form.

That got me thinking. What is the public’s and professional communities’ perception of Alcoholics Anonymous? Specifically, do they think Alcoholics Anonymous is a safe place to be, and, if not, how did they arrive at that perception?

We all know there are many ways A.A. meetings can be unsafe. There are physical dangers that include, but are not limited to, misinformation about medications and treatment programs, bullying, sexual harassment and inappropriate touching. There are liability dangers and the potential for vandalism of one’s property. There may be financial predators lurking in the rooms looking for victims, and, of course, there are members with behavioral health problems.

How do we handle potential danger or safety issues? Fortunately for us, the Traditions have already been put in place to guide us. Tradition One tells us we have an obligation to our common welfare. Tradition Three states, in part, we have only one requirement in Alcoholics Anonymous. Tradition Five reminds us about our primary purpose. Tradition Ten states we should not be drawn into public controversy. Tradition Eleven reminds us that our public relations policy is based on attraction, not promotion, and Tradition Twelve tells us to place principles before personalities.

Besides the Traditions, there are many ways to increase safety in meetings. Good sponsorship is another tool we can use to increase safety. We can start by talking about potential dangers and potentially dangerous people. It doesn’t have to be a secret. If there is an individual who is known to the group as a predator, let the new person be aware. Predators are like cockroaches: the only way to get rid of them is to shine the light on them.

Also, it is important to select good leadership in our groups, districts and areas. Good leaders should know the proper procedures in case of an emergency situation and know how to stay calm but firm when potential dangers arise. A good leader should make awareness of the safety issues a priority by organizing presentations and workshops.

There are no “A.A. police.” The General Service Office has no authority, legal or otherwise, to control or direct the behavior of A.A. members and groups. So, who has the responsibility? We all do! Collectively and individually, it is up to us.

Develop a plan or course of action in your home group’s business or group conscience meeting. Decide what to do if a situation requires police involvement and who should call the police. Just because A.A. is considered a safe haven from drinking doesn’t mean it is a safe haven from violence. If your group conscience dictates, don’t be afraid to ask disruptive members to leave the meeting. Remember, our common welfare comes first. If one person is preventing other members from hearing the message of Alcoholics Anonymous, it is okay if one or two members take that individual outside to talk. If the disruptive behavior continues, a member can be invited not to attend that group for a while. We do not kick people out of A.A., but if behavior warrants, we can ask them to attend a different meeting.

It is important to our future to make sure our Fellowship is attractive to the alcoholics still out there suffering. Nobody wants to attend a meeting they hear is unsafe. Does our Fellowship seem attractive? In order to answer that question, we can review the current Feasibility Study. This study clearly states our membership numbers continue to remain flat. Why is that? I believe part of the answer is our lack of Public Information/Cooperation with the Professional Community (P.I./C.P.C.) efforts.

Did you know there are members of Alcoholics Anonymous across the United States and Canada who aren’t even aware we have P.I./C.P.C. committees? Back when Bill W. was around, we had the support of many doctors, lawyers, clergymen, etc. Newspapers were flooded with wonderful stories about our Fellowship and our members. Today, most of the A.A. coverage in public media that I see is negative in nature. As a Fellowship, we cannot stand idly by and let others define us. It is time for us to have a more visible presence on the Internet so that misinformation does not go unchallenged. We cannot give one message about A.A. to the public and ignore educating our own members about how our behavior affects A.A. as a whole.

In the March 1958 Grapevine, Bill W. wrote, “Millions are still sick and other millions soon will be.… Why haven’t these millions come to us?” Responding to his own question with a solution, he wrote, “The answer seems to be in education — education in schoolrooms, in medical colleges, among clergy and employers, in families, and in the public at large.… Sound education on alcoholism, and far more of it at all levels, will clearly pay off.”

Remember that we have found a way out from a terrible illness. Our own survival lies in our ability to carry this message of hope to fellow sufferers. Let us not squander this responsibility.

Vikki R., California Northern Interior


Excerpt from 67th GSC Final Report


The following excerpt is from the Presentations section of the 67th General Service Conference Final Report. The sub-title Communication — Today and Tomorrow is under the Growth heading.

With the advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web, A.A. has adapted by adding the use of the Internet to its own methods of communication and by developing guidelines to mark our presence on the web and to define ways in which our members can make use of social media. Yes, the times have changed, and, yes, our movement has kept on top of these changes and has adapted to them with caution. Social media in particular has opened new frontiers to explore and utilize to efficiently extend the hand of A.A. to the alcoholic who still suffers.

Bill and the pioneers of A.A. would probably be shocked by Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and Skype, and without a doubt by the phenomenon of the universality of the smartphone. At the same time, they would have surely seen the huge potential of assuring, and possibly increasing, the importance and recognition of our association. And so, based on our past experience, they would have been the first to encourage a thoughtful approach.

Over the years, different aspects of our movement have faced turning points in regard to all of these new channels of communication and the behaviors they have generated.

The ways in which people get informed and communicate have changed. The number of options — instant messaging, texting and email, constant searching online — has made us talk less and less in person and amongst ourselves. We “like” and we “poke” and we text from one room to another, or from one end of the world to the other. Amongst us, within our own structure, we are seeing symptoms of communication that leave much to be desired. There is a large gap between the General Service Conference and the individual members of A.A. Is there a breakdown in communication between groups, G.S.R.s, D.C.M.s and the area steering committees?

How do we remedy this? And what can we say about the distance between the Conference and the alcoholic still suffering on the street corner?

We can surely say that the 21st century is well underway, and that we must jump into all of the modern and current modes of communication at our disposal to carry the message and make people aware of A.A. But, most importantly, our thoughts and this jump into modern times should be done through the structure that has served us so well until now: the inverted triangle.

—end of excerpt—

Thomas G., Southwest Québec


For continuation of this, and other complete presentations, see your GSR. Every Group should have a single Hard Copy of the Final Report. They should be available for pick-up at the October District 11 meeting.
Online Continuations are planned to become available as they are uploaded. Note that the Online Versions are ‘Anonymity Protected’ and are permissible for Online use.