“Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.” Alcoholics Anonymous, p.89
Treatment Facilities and the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous
Many happy sober A.A. members have found that the best cure for a “dry drunk” or a self-pity binge is working with another still-suffering alcoholic. Seeing other alcoholics recover, whenever they do, is almost as great a reward as our own sobriety.
What better place to look for those still-suffering alcoholics than in a hospital or some other alcoholism treatment place? The idea is older than A.A. itself.
In 1934, a sober alcoholic named Bill W. kept trying to help drunks in Towns Hospital in New York City. None of them seemed interested at the time, but Bill stayed sober.
All over the world, ever since, hundreds of thousands of A.A. members have been visiting alcoholics in such places. Twelfth- stepping and sponsoring sick alcoholics – where they are – has long been one of the important and happiest ways of keeping ourselves sober.
Today, unlike the 1930s and 1940s, alcoholics can get professional treatment in many different kinds of places. So A.A. members who want to strengthen their sobriety or who want more A.A. joy in life can easily find it. It is in the hospital or other treatment facilities nearest you, where many suffering alcoholics are.
The purpose of a Treatment Facilities Committee is to coordinate the work of individual A.A. members and groups who are interested in carrying our message of recovery to alcoholics in treatment facilities, and to set up a means of “bridging the gap” from the facility to the larger A.A. community.
Basic Function of T.F. Committees
When allowed to do so, takes regular A.A. meetings into facilities within its area.
Encourages group participation.
Provides a liaison between treatment facilities meetings and groups on the outside.
Coordinates temporary sponsorship.
Arranges purchase and distribution of literature for these groups and meetings. Some groups collect back issues of Grapevine for distribution.
Treatment Facilities and our 12 Traditions
The Treatment Facilities Committee is mindful of our Traditions in its work with the facilities. We are careful to cooperate and not affiliate, to attract rather than promote, and to let the facility run itself. Our only concern is with sharing our own experience, strength and hope. A set of guidelines, known as the “Dos and Don’ts“, has been developed strictly for A.A. members carrying the message into the facilities.
How can I get active?
The committee is always looking for volunteer members to lend support to meetings in treatment facilities. In facilities that allow it, you may volunteer for our Bridging the Gap program, which provides temporary sponsors to individuals leaving the facility. In addition, we are always looking for volunteers to attend and/or help put on meetings in various treatment facilities. Just follow this link here.
DO’S and DON’TS
- DO Abide carefully by all the rules of the facility. A.A. members are guests of the facility.
- DON’T A.A.s should not try to claim special exemptions or privileges, or try to manipulate the agency into making concessions.
- DO Make sure every A.A. promise is kept to the letter.
- DON’T Do not make any commitment that cannot be met. Excuses do not speak well for A.A., but faithfulness and results do.
- DO Limit yourself to carrying your own honest message of alcoholism recovery.
- DON’T Do not talk about medication, psychiatry, or scientific theories of alcoholism. This is the territory for professionals. Our own personal spiritual life does not make us experts on religion.
- DO Listen at least as much as you talk.
- DON’T Do not argue about anything. Arguments never win friends.
- DO Live by the spirit of A.A.’s Traditions.
- DON’T Do not expect any professional agency to govern itself by our Traditions. They cannot and have no need to do so.
- DO Remember that you are A.A. to people in the facility. Your language, appearance, manners, and mood will affect other people’s opinions of our Fellowship. Your behaviour can make sure A.A. is always welcome.
- DON’T Do not give agency personnel or patients any reason to be unhappy with A.A.
- DO Always maintain a cheerful humility about how A.A. works.
- DON’T – Do not brag about A.A. Let results speak for us.
- DO Remember that you “are responsible.” Let the patients know about the benefits of sponsorship, as well as the temporary contact program which may be available in your area.
- DON’T Do not carry the message to the facility and leave it there. Thousands of times these suggested Dos and Don’ts have helped to keep A.A. relationships with professionals cooperative and cordial.
Want to be a Treatment Facilities Committee volunteer? Click here!