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Meeting Guidelines 

Welcome to SA.  It is our desire that everyone feel comfortable and safe at meetings here in our area.  We have therefore adopted the following guidelines to help the meetings run smoothly and to provide a safe haven for recovery.  These guidelines adopted June 17, 1995 by the Pittsburgh Area Intergroup. 

  1. Meetings begin promptly.  Punctual attendance at meetings is greatly appreciated because it communicates commitment to the group and respect for group members.  If you must come late, please enter quietly, and try not to disrupt the flow of the meeting in progress.
  2. Meeting quality depends on how well we work the steps and practice program principles in our daily lives.  At meetings we lead with our weaknesses, always seeking to live the solution.  For a better understanding of how meetings work see “Meetings -How They Work” in the SA White Book, pages 185-189.
  3. Because some clothing attire can present challenges to some members, we ask you to be considerate of other members in your choice of attire.  For some, tight fitting or revealing clothing (such as tank tops) can be a problem or distraction.  “For some the objects of our lust or resentment are sitting right there next to us and we can imbibe and get drunk without so much as batting an eyelash!  (That’s why we avoid inappropriate attire at meetings, out of consideration for others.)”  White Book page 178.
  4. All members of SA are encouraged to participate in the growth of the meetings by actively helping in areas of leadership and service (setting up, cleaning up, refreshments, etc.)  By working together, our meetings can aid in strengthening and improving the quality of our sobriety.  Our meetings work when we .work them.  “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on SA unity”- Tradition One.

 

Practical Recovery Tools 

Welcome to the fellowship of SA and to the opportunity to build a new life in sobriety and recovery.  As soon as you can, we urge you to make a commitment to do the following things: 

  1. Set priorities:

  1. Attend meetings:

  1. Get a sponsor:

  1. Read the White Book:

  1. Work the Steps:

  1. Make phone calls:

 

General Information

 
  1. We all suffer from the same two-part problem:
  1. Our Solution:
  1. Our Sobriety Definition:
  1. Withdrawal symptoms:
  1. We offer two important cautions:
  1. Fair Chance:

 

Characteristics of the Addict (Copied with permission from 1984 edition SA manual) 

General 

The addict has little tolerance for frustration.  “I was born without a ‘coper’ “, some say, meaning that they can cope with very little.  We may become more aware of this trait in recovery, especially at the beginning, and especially regarding trivia. 

‘World War III I can handle, but if my shoelace breaks at the wrong time, I can go to pieces!”  

The addict has a low tolerance for psychic pain, so pain must be relieved immediately.  He cannot balance pleasure and pain, work and play.  He suffers impaired self-esteem.  He experiences conflicts about dependence, control, discipline, passivity, and aggressiveness.  His talk is saturated with references to his addictive needs.  The entire process is usually inflamed by self-contempt over lack of control of the addictive practice and continued poor performance in many areas of life.

 

Rationalization and Denial 

Since eventually the addictive practice becomes more important but less satisfying, the addict must find ways to deny the pain that the addiction itself is beginning to cause and reinforce the illusion that he is experiencing greater highs.  He must deny the destructive consequences to his well-being.  He can neither identify nor admit his pain, let alone see that his addictive behavior is excessive and a way of coping. 

Even when his addiction begins to interrupt his work and social life, he continues to deny what is happening.  Because the addict always denies the nature, depth, duration, and impact of his addictiveness, distortions of his sense of time occur.  He cannot account for much of his time, unaware that it was spent in addictive reveries or acts.  Even in the final stages, he still cannot connect his near paralysis and the addiction that has brought his life to a halt.  The addict is invariably the last person to know or want to know that he is an addict.  All too often, his denial is so insidious, that those to whom he may be going for help or treatment miss the central fact of his addiction.

 

Character Defects 

Character defects are always present, even though covered.  At various stages, a person may show dishonesty, unreliability, lack of control, over control, manipulative or immature behavior, mild or hardcore criminality, demanding behavior, grandiosity, exhibitionism, insatiability, and impulsiveness.  The greater a person’s character defects before the process begin, the more destructive is the addiction. 

The addict’s most challenging protection is his capacity to tell open and indirect lies.  At first these deceptions may only be about his addiction, but eventually they encompass his life and become the addiction’s guardians.  The addict becomes a polished actor-perhaps unaware of this talent, but rarely without it and unwilling to give it up.  Eventually he believes his own lies and manipulates others into believing them as well.  His truths have become delusions, the seeds of paranoia.

 

Narcissism 

This is generally defined as a state in which the person: has an exaggerated awareness and estimation of the self, negates the existence and value of others, and perceives only people who focus solely on his needs and will be a source of pleasure to be used and discarded with ease.  This attitude is often accompanied by feelings of omnipotence, superficial relatedness, immaturity, and sometimes a wish to return to infantile or childhood dependence and be the center of attention. 

The addict is described as one who needs instant and excessive rewards for inappropriately small exertions in work or relationships.  He shows little or no appropriate awareness or appreciation of others’ contributions to his life or their sacrifice on behalf of his addictive behavior.  The person is more often than not unable to delay gratification, is easily frustrated, and overreacts to failure.  Rarely does he concern himself with his excessive negative emotions, which are provoked by any level of discomfort, nor does he care about their unpleasant consequences to anyone around him.  

He can shift from arrogance to indifference, from the pain of total self-denial to the pleasure of complete indulgence.  He believes that resorting to his habit will magically repair any injury to his ego.

 

Personal Relationships 

The addict’s inadequacies with people become progressively more painful and result in many actual or provoked rejections by his family, peers, or authorities.  He grows unable to tolerate the tensions of intimate relationships and withdraws into addictive behavior as a solution.  As others begin to react negatively to him, he may come to see relationships as potentially dangerous, hostile, or confusing.  Ultimately, his isolation from family and peers may force him to retreat to a life with addictive peers and become excessively dependent on them and on his addiction.

An addict may not realize how persistently he seeks out his fellow addicts or addicting environments.  They make him feel alive, more adequate, and relieved of the pressures that triggered him to come to them.  As a result, he may withdraw further from his everyday familiar contacts and experiences.  This may appear as rebellion or pseudo-independence.  Also, his inability to accept control or exercise enough controls may lead to attempts to repair his damaged psyche by destructive domination or excessive submission.

 

Dependence

Every addict has an excessive need for dependence, either overt or hidden.  Usually he is unaware of how dependent he really is, how paralyzing his dependency needs are, and how insatiable his needs seem to others.  He is aware only of painful rejections and failures when these needs are not met by society and those closest to him.

Many an addict finds another person whose addiction feeds into and seems to justify his own.  He also needs people who can provide what is lacking in himself.  He becomes bound to such people-relatives, spouses, lovers, peers-with his own addiction as the catalyst.  Sometimes he can make people close to him his addictive complements, manipulating them into providing the triggers he needs to justify his acting-out.  He may force them to reduce his self-esteem, make him feel guilty, overprotect him, or reject him.  He may seduce them into exploiting or abusing him.  Then, instead of expressing his anger directly at them, he feels justified in acting out his addiction.

When two addicts become locked in a relationship, they may fuel each other’s addictions, easily become isolated and suspicious, and even find it difficult to integrate into society.  No one else seems able to fill their addictive needs as well as each other.

In many cases, the addict keeps searching for the totally accepting relationship he had or wanted as a child, and begins to distort the real nature of the rejection he receives.  He may not be able to see that people reject his demands because they are excessive or made in ways that make them difficult to fulfill.