Alcohol and Drug informational resource

Quint, Tradition Five

5) “Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers.”

5) Each Alcoholics Anonymous group ought to be a spiritual entity having but one primary purpose-that of carrying its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

“SHOEMAKER, stick to thy last!”… better do one thing supremely well than many badly. That is the central theme of this Tradition. Around it our Society gathers in unity. The

very life of our Fellowship requires the preservation of this principle

After the tale of a shoemaker who criticized the way an artist had drawn part of a sandal. When the artist then corrected the error, the emboldened shoemaker went on to disparage how the legs were painted. To which the artist snapped “Let him not criticize above the sole, In other words, the cobbler was qualified to judge footwear but only footwear. In effect it means, “Shoemaker, stick to thy last.”


“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.”

― Jack Handey


We carry the message, not the alcoholic

Alcoholics Anonymous can be likened to a group of physicians who might find a cure for cancer, and upon whose concerted work would depend the answer for sufferers of this disease. True, each physician in such a group might have his own specialty. Every doctor concerned would at times wish he could devote himself to his chosen field rather than work only with the group. But once these men had hit upon a cure, once it became apparent that only by their united effort could this be accomplished, then all of them would feel bound to devote themselves solely to the relief of cancer. In the radiance of such a miraculous discovery, any doctor would set his other ambitions aside, at whatever personal cost.

I was visiting the spring branch group Friday last for the speaker meeting. I sought out Elaine a friend from an old home group and the coordinator for the meeting. I inquired of her that it had been some time since I told my story and told her of the success of the sponsorship website. I explained that once I warmed up the crowd with my drunk along antics I would be concentrating on recovery, the solution and hope through the message of sponsorship.


She said she would be glad to do that for me and also confided in me that most of the ladies of her acquaintance did not sponsor;

I agreed and that it seemed to be the same with the men. That I had concluded in my guesstamation 20% of the people were doing 80% of the work. The reason I have found that once getting sober and in recovery their lives start to change.


Soon married and children are on the way, education so long since denied was taking up copious amount of time and careers that had fell into a narrow pit,  have now climbed out of the deep ditch and they were going to show the world  by making up for lost time and would  not  waste God’s precious gift of a second chance at a successful life.

And of course some just didn’t know what a sponsor was supposed to do; because at the time they wanted sobriety so much that it didn’t matter much what there sponsor did or didn’t do


Many decline instead of taking a chance and shooting blind from the hip and would prefer just to pass it off to a seasoned veteran. Elaine explained that she sponsored many women in attempt to pick up the never ending slack and found it to be both a privilege and a blessing and that God always made enough time to accomplish all that she was called upon to do


When women were treated as equals to men, they became superior


Just as firmly bound by obligation are the members of Alcoholics Anonymous, who have demonstrated that they can help problem drinkers as others seldom can. The unique ability of each A.A. to identify himself with, and bring recovery to, the newcomer in no way depends upon his learning, eloquence, or on any special individual skills.

The only thing that matters is that he is an alcoholic who has found a key to sobriety. These legacies of suffering and of recovery are easily passed among alcoholics, one to the other. This is our gift from God, and its bestowal upon others like us is the one aim that today animates A.A.’s all around the globe.

Continuous action – not strength or intelligence – is the key to success


A. A. puts it this a way: An alcoholic who has made SOME progress in the recovery program shares that experience on a continuous, individual basis with another alcoholic who is attempting to attain or maintain sobriety through A.A.


“Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail… Page 89 BB

There is another reason for this singleness of purpose. It is the great paradox of A.A. that we know we can seldom keep the precious gift of sobriety unless we give it away. If a group of doctors possessed a cancer cure, they might be conscience-stricken if they failed their mission through selfseeking. Yet such a failure wouldn’t jeopardize their personal survival. For us, if we neglect those who are still sick, there is unremitting danger to our own lives and sanity. Under these compulsions of self-preservation, duty, and love, it is not strange that our Society has concluded that it has but one high mission— to carry the A.A. message to those who don’t know there’s a way out.

They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man.


“until we have spoken with complete candor with someone and they have done the same with us we still didn’t belong, Step Five was the answer it was the beginning of true kinship between God and man”, (Step Five from the Twelve and Twelve) therefore not only do we have to speak a Fifth Step, we have to hear a Fifth Step who hears a fifth Step wait for it, wait for it, “A SPONSOR” and until then we still didn’t belong. We remained circling the field waiting to run out of spiritual gasoline and then its another crash and burn Vern.


Highlighting the wisdom of A.A.’s single purpose, a member tells this story:

“Restless one day, I felt I’d better do some Twelfth Step work. Maybe I should take out some insurance against a slip. But first I’d have to find a drunk to work on. “So I hopped the subway to Towns Hospital, where I asked Dr. Silkworth if he had a prospect.’Nothing too promising,’ the little doc said.’There’s just one chap on the third floor who might be a possibility. But he’s an awfully tough Irishman. I never saw a man so obstinate. He shouts that if his partner would treat him better, and his wife would leave him alone, he’d soon solve his alcohol problem. He’s had a bad case of D.T.’s, he’s pretty foggy, and he’s very suspicious of everybody. Doesn’t sound too good, does it? But working with him may do something for you, so why don’t you have a go at it?’

The Irish are not as tough as you may think, so put up your dukes and prepare to feel my booted grogan on the seat of your pants and if all else fails it’s a shillelagh to the noggin


“Nothing is likely to help a person overcome or endure troubles than to bring comfort and hope to another


I can go to skid row that I already know, and like Bob and Bill there is always the hospital. Now I hear tell they come under their own steam, washed but not clean, and desperate for simple instruction. Next time this golden opportunity walks through the  doors I will elbow and shove and help them find their seat so that I can continue to grow and make my own  recovery complete.

“I was soon sitting beside a big hulk of a man. Decidedly unfriendly, he stared at me out of eyes which were slits in his red and swollen face. I had to agree with the doctor— he certainly didn’t look good. But I told him my own story. I explained what a wonderful Fellowship we had, how well we understood each other. I bore down hard on the hopelessness of the drunk’s dilemma. I insisted that few drunks could ever get well on their own steam, but that in our groups we could do together what we could not do separately. He interrupted to scoff at this and asserted he’d fix his wife, his partner, and his alcoholism by himself. Sarcastically he asked, ‘How much does your scheme cost?’ “I was thankful I could tell him, ‘Nothing at all.’ “His next question: ‘What are you getting out of it?’ “Of course, my answer was ‘My own sobriety and a mighty happy life.’ “Still dubious, he demanded, ‘Do you really mean the only reason you are here is to try and help me and to help yourself?’ “’Yes,’ I said.’That’s absolutely all there is to it. There’s no angle.’

In the end, it’s just one drunk talking to another

Why not tell his alcoholics about the illness that condemned them to go mad or die if they continued to drink? ‘Coming from another alcoholic, one alcoholic talking to another, maybe that will crack those tough egos deep down,’ Silkworth said.” Once again, the doctor had put his finger on an idea that would be absolutely essential in carrying the A.A. message — the power of one alcoholic talking to another.

“What’s your angle?” I asked, trying to sound more playful than demanding.
“Isosceles,” Jack quipped.” I think that’s right to a point.


“Then, hesitantly, I ventured to talk about the spiritual side of our program. What a freeze that drunk gave me! I’d no sooner got the word ‘spiritual’ out of my mouth than he pounced. ‘Oh!’ he said. ‘Now I get it! You’re proselytizing for some damn religious sect or other. Where do you get that “no angle” stuff? I belong to a great church that means everything to me. You’ve got a nerve to come in here talking religion!’

You have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion. Steven Weinberg

Religion was for people who didn’t want to go to hell; spirituality was for people who had already been there.


Religion is like Bask and Robin’s ice cream, once you have picked your favorite flavor nothing else seems as satisfying

“Thank heaven I came up with the right answer for that one. It was based foursquare on the single purpose of A.A. ‘You have faith,’ I said. ‘Perhaps far deeper faith than mine. No doubt you’re better taught in religious matters than I. So I can’t tell you anything about religion. I don’t even want to try. I’ll bet, too, that you could give me a letter-perfect definition of humility. But from what you’ve told me about yourself and your problems and how you propose to lick them, I think I know what’s wrong.’ “’Okay,’ he said.’give me the business.’ “’Well,’ said I, ‘I think you’re just a conceited Irishman who thinks he can run the whole show.’

Foursquare: Marked by firm, unwavering conviction or expression; forthright:


Humility was like underwear; necessary unless it is seen then it becomes indecent



Most people try to live by self-propulsion. Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show;



So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic  is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid. Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God’s help.


Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.

“This really rocked him. But as he calmed down, he began to listen while I tried to show him that humility was the main key to sobriety. Finally, he saw that I wasn’t attempting to change his religious views, that I wanted him to find the grace in his own religion that would aid his recovery. From there on we got along fine.

Last evening a newcomer named Kevin engaged Glenn and I in a pity party conversation in the half measures smoking area and how his life was fearful and fraught with hopelessness. I listened intently with young Kevin’s rationalizations, justifications and minimization. I asked if he had read the Big Book that He claimed to be in possession of. Alas no, did he have a sponsor? Again no, as he could not find quite the right fit and to make matters worse he was perplexed by confusing and contradictory  opinions overheard in meetings   Kevin confided that his first 30 days he had hope, but slowly it had eroded. Kevin started to go on how it didn’t work,

Enough is a little less than too much when you’re digging out of ditch


I asked Kevin I f I could make an observation: I told him he missed his window of opportunity in his first 30 days to get a sponsor and start working the Steps. That He didn’t know what the #%@& he was talking about as he hadn’t read the Big Book or worked the Steps, that he was lazy and didn’t  want to do the necessary work and that he didn’t have what it takes to attain and maintain long term sobriety and that he was wasting his time here that he might as well give up and go home.

I left to catch the end of the meeting. On the way out Jeff a very large fellow whom I had given a tongue lashing several days before shook my hand and said Brutal honesty and called over to Kevin and said He loves you! You just don’t know it yet. I was called on to share even before I found my chair and inquired as to the topic, there was none what is ever on your mind, OK, fine and went on about the most recent occurrence.

As I concluded speaking Kevin and Glenn walked in and Kevin  shared for a moment. After the meeting I give out business cards and Kevin asked if he could have one, certainly I responded then he asked if I would be his sponsor and then I asked the two leading questions, have you had enough? And are you go to any length to achieve sobriety? Both were answered in the affirmative and I directed him to Clancy’s seven questions to be answered by and returned by the following day. Glenn sat in the back, on his face was affixed a wry grin that said it all


“Now,” concludes the oldtimer, “suppose I’d been obliged to talk to this man on religious grounds? Suppose my answer had to be that A.A. needed a lot of money; that A.A. went in for education, hospitals, and rehabilitation? Suppose I’d suggested that I’d take a hand in his domestic and business affairs? Where would we have wound up? No place, of course.”

“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” Mark Twain


“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Mark Twain

Years later, this tough Irish customer liked to say, “My sponsor sold me one idea, and that was sobriety. At the time, I couldn’t have bought anything else.”

Our Primary Purpose is to Stay Sober–and Help Others to Achieve Sobriety.



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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.