Poll: Identification vs Topic meetings.

For recovery discussion

Would a decrease in ID meetings make a difference to a persons chance for long-term recovery?

Poll ended at Fri Oct 10, 2014 10:14 pm

No difference.
3
25%
Strengthen.
3
25%
Weaken.
6
50%
 
Total votes: 12

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Peter.H.
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Re: Poll: Identification vs Topic meetings.

Post by Peter.H. » Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:39 am

In hope of minimizing any confusion, I will clarify what I call an identification meeting:

A meeting where each speaker tells their story in a general way what they used to be like (as an alcoholic), what happened (to get into AA), and what they are like now (as a sober person).
This is outlined on page 58, AA 3rd Ed, Chapter 5 "How it Works".
As far as I know, this is the original and standard way to conduct an AA meeting. Any other meeting format can be put under the umbrella of a Topic meeting.

We call these meetings 'identification' because when we look for the similarities and not the differences, we identify with the speaker.
Hence we acknowledge our own alcoholism through another alcoholic. This is the basis of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

Hope this has clarified things a bit more.
"...unless this person can experience an entire psyche change there is very little hope of his recovery" - Dr. Silkworth. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed, p xxix.]

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Re: Poll: Identification vs Topic meetings.

Post by Squawking Hawk » Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:03 am

Peter, thank-you for the clarification of what an Identification meeting is. One of the reasons I did not respond sooner is because I wasn't sure if I had ever been to an identification meeting. It turns out that all or most of the meetings that I have been to in sobriety have either been topic meetings, literature meetings, speaker discussion (some on shares their story and discussion follows either using a topic or where people identify with the speaker), and three speaker meetings (speakers share their stories, no discussion).

I am not sure that what I call a speaker-discussion meeting (with no topic and no literature) qualifies as an identification meeting. And with that I will end my share.

Hawk
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Re: Poll: Identification vs Topic meetings.

Post by Brock » Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:36 am

Duke wrote:
ID meetings serve a purpose, but I think it's limited to times there is a new or returning person in attendance. Otherwise, wouldn't we be saying largely the same things to each other over and over?

This is exactly how it works in my area; if a new person is present they have a better chance of identifying when we give our war story, and we are encouraged to do so. Unfortunately some people only have that story, and regardless if it’s a big book meeting with a passage read, or a selected topic, when they get the chance to speak, it will still be how they were what they did and how they are now. And since all the meetings are relatively small, and there are no meetings at which someone speaks for an extended period, everyone usually gets to say their five minutes worth. It surprises me that often it is the person who on the surface appears better educated, who will give the same story week in week out, while others will put some thought into a topic or book passage, and relate their comments to it.

Brock.
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Re: Poll: Identification vs Topic meetings.

Post by ezdzit247 » Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:01 pm

Tommy-S wrote:I apologize folks, and particularly to Lali, as my intent was Not to be defeatist, but realistic... maybe too much so.

My point is simply that there is something Other Than ME involved in getting sober and staying that way... I have come to attribute that as GRACE, which was explained to me that IF I know how I got from A to B, I can probably take credit.

The Appendix says that others will see the change in us before we do, and that is this Grace in action.

Also, when I try to nail this 'magic' down to some formula, I have a tendency to think more of my part in it than is probable, and this either gets me trying to manipulate it or sets me up to believe that I am failing in some part of the Program when the Crap Fairy pays a visit... those Calamities not of my own making, or just Life throwing Curve Balls... Or I get to playing arm chair quarterback and figuring out what 'they' did wrong which does nothing for me and may hurt their chance of returning.

Honestly, there is No one more surprised that I have managed Not to wimp out or cave in to that Fatal First one in all these years and through all that I have gotten through than I am. I'm just one lucky drunk.

Do I have a lock on this? No... Nor can I guarantee I will Never drink again as I don't know what tomorrow may bring. But I know my chances are much improved that one day at a time, can keep stacking up 24 hours without a drink, IF I continue to follow the path laid out by those before me.

So at best, while I can not guarantee anyone, including myself, I have never lost Hope that I can go another day without a Drinnk, no matter what the day brings. And IF I can do it, then that certainly means someone else can.

Hope that helps... Keep stacking up those 24 hours because we do get better :)

Thanks... Tommy
Good post!

Reading through the posts of newcomers describing their fears, nervousness and resistance before attending their first live AA meeting, and then reading their later posts describing their reactions afterwards, i.e. how surprised they were that AA folks were so happy and friendly, how comfortable and "at home" they felt "in the rooms", that despite how hungover, guilt-ridden or depressed they felt before the meeting that they actually laughed during the meeting at something somebody said, and that it felt good to laugh for a change--all that tells me that no matter how hard we try to come up with the perfect formula for how, when and what we should share to make the meetings more effective intellectually for newcomers, the "magic formula" is still going to be whether or not newcomers feel the love thing going on "in the rooms" of one drunk for another. If it's there, they can feel it and want to keep coming back. If it isn't, they can't and may not want to come back.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Re: Poll: Identification vs Topic meetings.

Post by Squawking Hawk » Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:51 am

Peter, I have been thinking about what you call an identification meeting. It sounds to me like some of the three speaker meetings (or what my area calls speaker meetings). In a speaker meeting, there are three speakers. Each speaker shares his or her story sharing what they used to like, what happened to them to get them to AA, and what they are like now. There is no discussion during the meeting, you are going to listen to the speakers and to identify and not compare. The speaker meetings are open meetings. Usually three speakers, but sometimes more.

Three speaker meetings in my area have a trusted servant position where someone called a "booker" goes to a special regional meeting called a bookers meeting early on a Sunday morning (sponsored by our intergroup) where speaker meetings exchange commitments. So, the my town speaker meeting will ask the next town speaker meeting to come speak on July 31 and in turn the my town speaker meeting will speak at the next meeting on Aug 6. Other areas may not have an intergroup based bookers meeting to exchange speakers. I can only speak to what goes on in my area.

In the part of the State on the East Coast USA, many of the early AA meetings (going back to the 1940s) were speaker meetings.

So, my question for you is does what I describe as what I call a speaker or three-speaker meeting sound like what you call an identification meeting?

Hawk
Peter.H. wrote:In hope of minimizing any confusion, I will clarify what I call an identification meeting:

A meeting where each speaker tells their story in a general way what they used to be like (as an alcoholic), what happened (to get into AA), and what they are like now (as a sober person).
This is outlined on page 58, AA 3rd Ed, Chapter 5 "How it Works".
As far as I know, this is the original and standard way to conduct an AA meeting. Any other meeting format can be put under the umbrella of a Topic meeting.

We call these meetings 'identification' because when we look for the similarities and not the differences, we identify with the speaker.
Hence we acknowledge our own alcoholism through another alcoholic. This is the basis of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
Ms. Hawk

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Re: Poll: Identification vs Topic meetings.

Post by Peter.H. » Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:50 am

Hello Hawk.

To answer your question about three speaker meetings, or speaker meetings. My answer would be, in Australia, we mainly have speaker meetings.

The following example is what we call an ID meeting: The chairperson has a list of names present at the meeting. They call out a name, asking if that person wishes to share their story. After that person has spoken, the chairperson calls out another name. Each speaker usually take between 10-15 minutes to share their story. Meetings are usually 1.5 hrs long. So, about 6-9 members get to share their story to the group. These meetings can be either open or closed meetings.

We rarely have pre-arranged speaker meetings. Though we are starting to see more of them.
"...unless this person can experience an entire psyche change there is very little hope of his recovery" - Dr. Silkworth. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed, p xxix.]

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Re: Poll: Identification vs Topic meetings.

Post by Squawking Hawk » Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:14 am

Peter, have to run. Thanks for your response. I'll respond back later today.

Hawk
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Re: Poll: Identification vs Topic meetings.

Post by Peter.H. » Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:25 am

Sorry for any confusion introduced by me.
I assumed that the AA meetings we have here in Australia were the same anywhere else. Even though I have experienced our ID meetings in other countries.

I just checked my AA pamphlet "The Australian AA Group Handbook". Here is an extract from that Handbook - under the heading What kinds of meetings do AA groups hold?:
The most common kinds of AA meetings are:
"ID" meetings. In this type of meeting members identify as alcoholics and talk (share) for ten minutes or so about their experiences along the lines of "what we used to be like, what happened and what we are like now.' It's common in Australian meetings for the secretary to appoint someone to act as a chairperson for that meeting. The chairperson will call on individual members to speak or may invite anyone who wants to, to speak.
p.12.
"...unless this person can experience an entire psyche change there is very little hope of his recovery" - Dr. Silkworth. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed, p xxix.]

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Re: Poll: Identification vs Topic meetings.

Post by Lali » Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:41 am

Interesting how differently groups operate. In my home group, I am what is called "speaker seeker". We have a speaker meeting once a month and I ask people from whom I have heard sharing in meetings and liked their message. (We often ask people from other groups in town to speak and we also have speakers from surrounding counties). Only one person shares and they share for about 45 meetings. The night group here has a speaker every Monday night and they speak for 45 minutes as well. We have book studies at every group in our town. We also have beginners meetings and topic meetings.
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Re: Poll: Identification vs Topic meetings.

Post by kenyal » Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:05 am

My area offers a variety of meeting types with the emphasis on ID meetings. I secretary a BB study and attend a topic, a speaker meeting, and a men's meeting weekly. There are new people at each almost always.
We're told that our drinking experience is extremely valuable, that by using it we can uniquely reach those who are often unreachable other ways, and save many lives. It strikes me as self-centered to put in it's place our current opinions on gratitude or our ongoing problem with a leaky basement, for examples. I appreciate the members that often make references to their drinking lives when they speak to make an attempt to reach out to those who are new.
Some members are vocal in their dislike of listening to anything relating to the drinking life we and the new people have experienced in common, and pare down the book's instructions to only "what we are like now". I'm of course glad they're wonderful now, but since I've nothing to compare them to I'm left with the impression they've always been amazing and AA has only been beneficial to them as a place to share that fact with others.
New people who have been also wonderful forever may indeed relate to them and be attracted to the message that the basis of AA is sharing how a choirboy lives to good effect day to day, so those listening will be uplifted and happy for them. The steps do possibly serve somewhat as relevant in that pursuit, but only by a stretch of the imagination.
Others just coming in may not have behaved well drinking, and some may have been real stinkers. They may not feel they belong among a saintly crowd. If at least one member mentions they actually did some drinking and what they did to the chicken when drunk then that may serve to allow the less than shiny and spotless newcomer to stick around to hear more.

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Re: Poll: Identification vs Topic meetings.

Post by Lali » Thu Jul 17, 2014 1:21 pm

FWIW, I agree with you Kenya.
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Re: Poll: Identification vs Topic meetings.

Post by ann2 » Fri Jul 18, 2014 7:27 pm

Agreeing with Kenyal has always been my response to his posts and this is no different. I was always somewhat astonished that listening to "war stories" or drunkalogs as I heard them termed in Boston was somehow repellant or contrary to recovery. Nothing made me laugh more in relieved identification and self-forgiveness than a seemingly happy AA member content in his sobriety share some mind-blowing jackpot from his drinking days and the feelings that accompanied the experience.

I could not relate at all in the beginning to the problems people who were sober thought they had. As far as anybody who didn't have problems, they were off my radar.

Ann
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Re: ID meetings and drunkalogs.

Post by Peter.H. » Fri Jul 18, 2014 8:54 pm

I too am aware that many members only have drunkalogs. They seem to only share on "what we used to be like." Sometimes they may mention "what happened", but rarely, if not at all about "what we are like now".

If I am at an ID meeting, and I know that every member present at that meeting has already heard my drunkalog, I do not repeat it. I may refer to it while sharing "what we are like now."
Many members, including myself, like to hear how others cope with life without picking up a drink. It is about staying sober.
When I notice a newcomer in the meeting, and I am asked to share first. Or, my story is similar to the newcomer's story. I share "what we used to be like" or my drunkalog as some call it. But I also include the other two parts, "what happened, and what we are like now".
"...unless this person can experience an entire psyche change there is very little hope of his recovery" - Dr. Silkworth. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed, p xxix.]

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Re: Poll: Identification vs Topic meetings.

Post by Tosh » Sat Jul 19, 2014 2:32 am

Joe McQ gives some good advice with regards our drinking stories. He reckoned that many of us don't understand them properly, but if we tell them weaving in how the phenomenon of craving and the mental obsession played their part, then we can help the newcomer see their own story in ours. People may not relate to the actual specifics of what we did, but they will relate to the physical allergy and the mental obsession parts.

His advice was to think of three-to-five occasions where we'd planned to just drink a couple, and then ended up getting drunk. Or when we planned to drink nothing at all and the mental obsession coupled with the queer mental twist drove us to drink. And share along those lines.

He goes onto write about early on he told a newcomer to find God and do an inventory and that the newcomer just wrote him off as a religious nut. He made the mistake of not sharing his story first.

Apologies for sharing my understanding of Joe McQ's experience! :D
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Re: Poll: Identification vs Topic meetings.

Post by Peter.H. » Sat Jul 19, 2014 4:28 am

Good tips Tosh.
My recovery background and career is a rehab counsellor. I've been doing it for twenty years now. I agree with you completely.
I too always express both my irrational behaviours and thought patterns, especially how I twisted all my beliefs, philosophies, ethics, and morals to support my drinking. Then I express how I had to realign them to support my sobriety. Oddly enough, I have never had anybody say that they did not identify with my drinking. Because my actions may be different to theirs, but they identify with my fears and irrational thoughts. However, the newcomers may not yet identify with my recovery, though most do seem to know where I am coming from.
"...unless this person can experience an entire psyche change there is very little hope of his recovery" - Dr. Silkworth. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed, p xxix.]

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