The way it was set down for us.

   Anything in these writings that you cannot find in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous please consider it to be my opinion, and view it as such. And my advice is to take that across the board. Anything that ANYONE says to you is just opinion if it's not in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. This book is truly the textbook for this program and is a textbook for living. And all we have to do is follow the instructions that are in it in order to be free and connected to our Higher Power.

  I have been called a fundamentalist, a traditionalist, a room Nazi, a book thumper and many more. That's ok. Sticks and stones...  I am still Randy Dowling, RECOVERED alcoholic. And I am still going to give you the message that I am supposed to give. (It was part of my bargain with God.)

  I am going to elaborate and expound on a few topics of debate and give you my opinion. I don't know why I feel that that's important but I do and so I am. The first topic is working the first 3 steps.

  It drives me crazy to hear someone say that they are still working step one. Or to hear that they have been working the program for a year and are stuck on step 3. Working step one? How can you WORK step one? Step one says we admitted we were powerless and our lives are unmanageable. There's no work to that! You dry out and say, "I need help" and poof, you are done with step 1. And stuck on step 3 usually translates into " I know enough of step 4 to be scared. So I think I'll drag my feet." 

  If you think about it, by the time someone reaches the meeting room and reaches out to AA for help and guidance,  they are  already, or close to being, done with step 1. They usually know by then if they have a problem or not. They have usually already tried to quit a bunch of times and failed. Failed because the obsession never really left them!

  Once they are in the rooms it really shouldn't be that hard to find out if they think  they are powerless and do they think they can quit on their own. They already KNOW they have a problem and need help quitting, or they wouldn't be at a meeting. 

  Look, how can we be taking so much time working steps that are really nothing more than "ideas" and "decisions"?

  I think we shouldn't be sitting around for a year doing 3 steps that require nothing more of us than to make a decision. We shouldn't be allowed to do this because the whole time you're  sitting there "trying to make a decision" you are also getting eaten alive by the resentments and all the CRUD that is blocking you in the first place! 

   This is not the newbies fault or the fault of AA. This is bad sponsorship. Bad sponsorship spawned by years of jr. therapists and open discussion meetings. Listen folks, hugs are nice, but they aren't what get you recovered. No more than just quitting and going to meetings is going to get you recovered.

   If you are a sponsor and are talking to a newbie, remember this: by the time they meet you, the new person is probably in enough pain and probably so broken that getting them from "yes I have a problem and things are unmanageable", to "yes, I want my higher power to run the show for awhile and make me feel better about living again," should be no problem. It should NOT take a long time to get them there. If you are telling them to take their time then you should reread the big book. The book does not say "make them suffer and don't let them even have a taste of the cake they are making."

  Why let them stew in the juices that are ruining and running their lives for any period of time? We as sponsors should NOT do that! Why do we think that if they just go to meetings and not use that they are recovering? They are NOT! They are feeling a little better at first, maybe, but the obsession is still there...lurking around the corner for one of those so called "triggers". And within a short period of time they are sitting on their hands, smiling and gritting there every meeting. Because, as we all have heard, "meeting makers make it!"  They don't, they just sit there miserable and smiling until the pain gets so unbearable that they go out there and drink or smoke. They do whatever they can to fill that void we have just created by taking away the drugs and alcohol.

  If they had cancer and you had the cure, would you make them wait a year to use it? Of course not! So why tell them to take their time ridding themselves of the things that are making them miserable? The very things that are killing them! The resentments, the fears...the mistakes. 

  You see, booze and drugs aren't the problem and aren't the total reason we feel so bad. They are actually just symptoms of the disease. And the solution to our pain. That's why we used, and when we weren't using, that's when we were really feeling like crap. It doesn't fix the problem to take that stuff away. It doesn't fix the problem inside us. Taking it away makes the problem within us even worse! Now we feel 10 times worse than we did when we were drinking and smoking.

   So there is no point in letting them take their time to get to step 3, and in my OPINION, it should be done in just a few days or hours. If someone is really hurting and really wants to be done with it, I'll  BET I can get them to step 3 quickly and then onto step 4, the written portion of our steps, within a short period of time!

 This is why I'm a firm believer in doing it the way the founders of this program set it up and did themselves. You NEED to do these steps rapidly and honestly and thoroughly in order to have the necessary spiritual awakening . The spiritual awakening that is going to set you free from all of the anger, depression, anxiety, paranoia, fear and the feeling like there is no point in tomorrow. You need to have a spiritual experience to be rid of the obsession. 

  Once you have a taste of the spiritual experience (and the sooner you have it, the better) the more driven you're going to be to complete these steps. And that will grow during this process. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slower. But it ALWAYS happens if a person is being honest with themselves the whole time.  

   The book says that once we fix the spiritual malady that the body and mind straighten out on their own. And it's true! If you start getting closer to God, the obsession starts to leave your mind almost immediately. And I mean truly connected to God, not just saying it.

  Granted, rapidly is a relative term and means different things to different people, but the founders were doing their steps with a couple of months...and that's about how long I did mine in. But even if its longer, as long as you are honestly putting in the effort and being honest, it really doesn't take that long.

   Now if they come into this not having a belief system at all or with a very minimal belief, then it will take a little longer.

   Another point is this, the quicker you work the steps the quicker the person starts to feel better, and starts feeling good about life again. And the quicker they work the steps, the quicker they can get unblocked with God and be free of the obsession and pain. That is, in my opinion, the grace of God. That is God letting them know that he heard the call. 

  So in short, to all of you sponsors out there, STEP IT UP! Get these people on their way to the spiritual experience that we had so they can get recovered!