Alcohol and Drug informational resource

Oct, Tradition Eight

Eight—- “Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.”

Eight— Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional. We define professionalism as the occupation of counseling alcoholics for fees or hire. But we may employ alcoholics where they are going to perform those services for which we might otherwise have to engage nonalcoholics. Such special services may be well recompensed. But our usual A.A. Twelfth Step work is never to be paid for.

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS will never have a professional class. We have gained some understanding of the ancient words “Freely ye have received, freely give.” We have discovered that at the point of professionalism, money and spirituality do not mix. Almost no recovery from alcoholism has ever been brought about by the world’s best professionals, whether medical or religious. We do not decry professionalism in other fields, but we accept the sober fact that it does not work for us. Every time we have tried to professionalize our Twelfth Step, the result has been exactly the same: Our single purpose has been defeated.

Does “freely given” really mean “without charge”? Or is this just hype to get another maxed out credit card

Money can’t buy friends but it can get you a better class of enemy” Spike Milligan

The only thing that travels faster than bad news is good gossip when flying on the wagging tongues of rumor

A rumor related to me in recent memory was that there was a group that sanctioned a sponsor the license to collect a fee to hear a Fifth Step. How absurd it could not be true, it must be a joke, until I heard that it was on a sliding scale. The longer and more detailed the Fifth Step the greater the fee. There was a credibility of a sort, alcoholic thinking, a shorter fourth Step and a paying job.


Alcoholics simply will not listen to a paid twelfth-stepper. Almost from the beginning, we have been positive that face-to-face work with the alcoholic who suffers could be based only on the desire to help and be helped. When an A.A. talks for money, whether at a meeting or to a single newcomer, it can have a very bad effect on him, too. The money motive compromises him and everything he says and does for his prospect. This has always been so obvious that only a very few A.A.’s have ever worked the Twelfth Step for a fee.

Clocks slay time… time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels in little heels  only then the clock stops when in the  pursuit of service ideals does time come to life.

What’s your angle, what’s your scam why do you even give a tinkers dam.

Who wants to sacrifice time and energy in trying to carry A.A.’s message to the next sufferer? No, the average alcoholic, self-centered in the extreme, doesn’t care for this prospect — unless he has to do these things in order to stay alive himself.

Despite this certainty, it is nevertheless true that few subjects have been the cause of more contention within our Fellowship than professionalism. Caretakers who swept floors, cooks who fried hamburgers, secretaries in offices, authors writing books— all these we have seen hotly assailed because they were, as their critics angrily remarked, “making money out of A.A.” Ignoring the fact that these labors were not Twelfth Step jobs at all, the critics attacked as A.A. professionals these workers of ours who were often doing thankless tasks that no one else could or would do. Even greater furors were provoked when A.A. members began to run rest homes and farms for alcoholics, when some hired out to corporations as personnel men in charge of the alcoholic problem in industry, when some became nurses on alcoholic wards, when others entered the field of alcohol education. In all these instances, and more, it was claimed that A.A knowledge and experience were being sold for money, hence these people, too, were professionals.

Hey Judas, how about a job as a drug and alcohol counselor, pays well, 30 pieces of silver as a signing bonus

Linus I was thinking about becoming a professional pain in the butt, but nothing,  I was considering the field  of cartoon  proctology Charlie Brown

Jimmy K a midtimer encouraged me to put together the a Big Book sponsorship website. Initially I protested, as it would be too much of a commitment of time and money etc. He then used the word legacy, hmm, a word that men of age find heady. I agreed knowing of the breach that existed in the program. We started slow and I had a business cards printed to give out locally. The first objection was the word “Stepologist” you got to be kidding; you are trying to professionalize the Steps! As a keeper of the status quo bellowed, foul ball. A visitor from another state chimed in on my behalf and said it was only meant as a joke. The next assault was in the form of dispensing the business cards to vulnerable young women in order to entice them to nefarious ends. I was given a clean bill of health in Group conscious    “Joseph is never inappropriate with the ladies” The next assault came in the form of the accusation of the potential acquisition of  untold wealth that he could derive from the pain and suffering of fellow alcoholics. That charge was easily discharged as it is obvious to the looking, but only with a jaundiced eye for perhaps if this thing takes off he can then reap financial gain sometime in the unforeseen future. The last and final assault was the accusation of grandiosity, he would accomplish notoriety through self propelled promotion and thus the ban took effect as for the crime of self promotion, not by the group conscious but by the board of directors. The P.O.C has now lost their lease and in search of a new home. As for me I stopped fighting everything and everybody including alcohol a long time ago, well most of time, I’m still working on that one.

For I am not known where I stand; I am known where I stand not, so let’s not stand on formalities

At last, however, a plain line of cleavage could be seen between professionalism and nonprofessionalism. When we had agreed that the Twelfth Step couldn’t be sold for money, we had been wise. But neither when we had declared that our Fellowship couldn’t hire service workers nor could any A.A. member carry our knowledge into other fields, we were taking the counsel of fear, fear which today has been largely dispelled in the light of experience.

Cleavage is magnetic, depending on its ratio the grater the charge

Looking at cleavage is like looking at the Sun; if you look too long you will get a burning slap and eventually go blind

The great Karnack “empty your minds of all the A.A. lessons you have learned” for now emptied you can now get a job in the local rehabilitation facility

In newcomers meetings I often suggest to the new man that he seeks out a temporary sponsor, and that a temporary sponsor can help them to obtain a captain midnight decoder ring needed in the deciphering of our archaic  jargon of language. To also help him learn our secret hand shakes so identification on the street is made possible.  When leaning these things they can now become a part of, instead of apart from. (;

Take the case of the club janitor and cook. If a club is going to function, it has to be habitable and hospitable. We tried volunteers, who were quickly disenchanted with sweeping floors and brewing coffee seven days a week. They just didn’t show up. Even more important, an empty club couldn’t answer its telephone, but it was an open invitation to a drunk on a binge who possessed a spare key. So somebody had to look after the place full time. If we hired an alcoholic, he’d receive only what we’d have to pay a nonalcoholic for the same job. The job was not to do Twelfth Step work; it was to make Twelfth Step work possible. It was a service proposition, pure and simple.

Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward.” KJV

“…..But ol’ man river He keeps rollin’ along. You and me we sweat and strain. Body all achin’ And wracked with pain. Tote that mop, Lift that pail. Or get a little drunk And you land in jail…”

Back in Vietnam I was informed that for every soldier in a combat role that it took ten men to support him. I asked, with odds like that how did I pick the short straw? I was then told, “Just lucky I guess”.

Neither could A.A. itself function without full-time workers. At the Foundation* and intergroup offices, we couldn’t employ nonalcoholics as secretaries; we had to have people who knew the A.A. pitch. But the minute we hired them, the ultraconservative and fearful ones shrilled, “Professionalism!” At one period, the status of these faithful servants was almost unbearable. They weren’t asked to speak at A.A. meetings because they were “making money out of A.A.” At times, they were actually shunned by fellow members. Even the charitably disposed described them as “a necessary evil.” Committees took full advantage of this attitude to depress their salaries. They could regain some measure of virtue, it was thought, if they worked for A.A. real cheap. These notions persisted for years. Then we saw that if a hardworking secretary answered the phone dozens of times a day, listened to twenty wailing wives, arranged hospitalization and got sponsorship for ten newcomers, and was gently diplomatic with the irate drunk who complained about the job she was doing and how she was overpaid, then such a person could surely not be called a professional A.A. She was not professionalizing the Twelfth Step; she was just making it possible. She was helping to give the man coming in the door the break he ought to have. Volunteer committeemen and assistants could be of great help, but they could not be expected to carry this load day in and day out.

It occurred to me that eating is the only form of professionalism most people ever attain.

Don DeLillo

Twelve Step work was about giving back and worked when nothing else could, all else was to facilitate that endeavor and this too was good. Unless I forget the new sponsee is a natural resource of opportunity, not for labor without cost but a priceless opportunity to get caught up in the freeing spirit of service.

At the Foundation, the same story repeats itself. Eight tons of books and literature per month do not package and channel themselves all over the world. Sacks of letters on every conceivable A.A. problem ranging from a lonelyheart Eskimo to the growing pains of thousands of groups must be answered by people who know. Right contacts with the world outside have to be maintained. A.A.’s lifelines have to be tended. So we hire A.A. staff members. We pay them well, and they earn what they get. They are professional secretaries,* but they certainly are not professional A.A.’s.

As of late half of 2011 and the near beginning of the 2012, the Mayan prophesied end of days, the coffers in the A.A. treasury has become critically sparse from the lack of group participation. The “Grape Vine” our meeting in print has become anorexic for lack of interest. The world has spun away and we have not kept to our primary purpose. Skid row and the hospital once our dutiful domain has all but gone astray. We are now hard put to do Twelve Step calls and sponsorship has been likening to a dating service. Once we get back to basics and increase our ability to rescue the drowning soul  paying for the help we need to stay sober and in recovery will become a by word of what  might have been when we lost sight of the goal.

At church Sunday last an announcement was made that a deposit was required for a boy scout outing in 2013, I inquired, if the world ends in 2012 will refunds be made available?

Perhaps the fear will always lurk in every A.A. heart that one day our name will be exploited by somebody for real cash. Even the suggestion of such a thing never fails to whip up a hurricane, and we have discovered that hurricanes have a way of mauling with equal severity both the just ane d the unjust. They are always unreasonable. No individuals have been more buffeted by such emotional gusts than those A.A.’s bold enough to accept employment with outside agencies dealing with the alcohol problem. A university wanted an A.A. member to educate the public on alcoholism. A corporation wanted a personnel man familiar with the subject. A state drunk farm wanted a manager who could really handle inebriates. A city wanted an experienced social worker who understood what alcohol could do to a family. A state alcohol commission wanted a paid researcher. These are only a few of the jobs which A.A. members as individuals have been asked to fill. Now and then, A.A. members have bought farms or rest homes where badly beat-up topers could find needed care. The question was— and sometimes still is— are such activities to be branded as professionalism under A.A. tradition?

A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.

Never underestimate the effectiveness of a straight cash bribe. Claud Cockburn

Nickel and dimes were fine, but serious green would corrupt the holier than thou intent, unless it was mine and then in a very little time all bets were off.

We think the answer is “No. Members who select such full-time careers do not professionalize A.A.’s Twelfth Step.” The road to this conclusion was long and rocky. At first, we couldn’t see the real issue involved. In former days, the moment an A.A. hired out to such enterprises, he was immediately tempted to use the name Alcoholics Anonymous for publicity or money-raising purposes. Drunk farms, educational ventures, state legislatures, and commissions advertised the fact that A.A. members served them. Unthinkingly, A.A.’s so employed recklessly broke anonymity to thump the tub for their pet enterprise. For this reason, some very good causes and all connected with them suffered unjust criticism from A.A. groups. More often than not, these onslaughts were spearheaded by the cry “Professionalism! That guy is making money out of A.A.!” Yet not a single one of them had been hired to do A.A.’s Twelfth Step work. The violation in these instances was not professionalism at all; it was breaking anonymity. A.A.’s sole purpose was being compromised, and the name of Alcoholics Anonymous was being misused.

There is no need to proclaim from the roof tops the merits of anonymity. Their good work in the program is generally known to people who do not care to declare it.

It is significant, now that almost no A.A. in our Fellowship breaks anonymity at the public level, that nearly all these fears have subsided. We see that we have no right or need to discourage A.A.’s who wish to work as individuals in these wider fields. It would be actually antisocial were we to forbid them. We cannot declare A.A. such a closed corporation that we keep our knowledge and experience top secret. If an A.A. member acting as a citizen can become a better researcher, educator, personnel officer, then why not? Everybody gains and we have lost nothing. True, some of the projects to which A.A.’s have attached themselves have been ill-conceived, but that makes not the slightest difference with the principle involved

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. This principle is contempt prior to examination.

Honesty, open-mindedness, & willingness is the HOW of the Program

Principles before personalities

Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer. They may not all be right, but try to see where anyone may be right.

A young man undertook and arduous journey to seek out a guru who was reported to know the secret to life. Exhausted and half mad from his ordeal he came upon the Wise man on the very top of an exalted hill. Master he pleaded what is the secret to life? The Guru paused for just an instant and said the secret to life was never to argue. The young man explained his harrowing ordeal with frustration and said there has to be more to it than that! to which the Guru replied “you know you could be right”?

This is the exciting welter of events which has finally cast up A.A.’s Tradition of nonprofessionalism. Our Twelfth Step is never to be paid for. but those who labor in service for us are worthy of their hire.

Welter: to roll about, writhe, or wallow

We were in a sea of conflicting personalities and ideas, tempest tossed nearly thrown for a loss, we landed on the shore of practical spiritual accountability.



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Mission Statement

Our mission is to inform, inspire, and empower alcoholics anonymous sponsorship locally and internationally to be their very best --- both personally and spiritually.

I would like to acknowledge Hamilton B and his tireless work in the recovery community and his work "Twelve Step Sponsorship How it works" a Hazelton publication and his permission to use what ever was needed to make possible my ongoing sponsorship workshop and Step study and this website.