Home Groups – That Sufficient Substitute by Pete G.
On page 166 of the 75th Anniversary Reprint of the First Edition, our wonderful pioneers wrote of a sufficient substitute. That substitute is the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have come to understand that being a Home Group Member and participating in Home Group activities is precisely what they were referring to as a suitable substitute.
I do not believe we can talk about Home Groups enough. On pages 166 and 167 of the 75th Anniversary Reprint of the First Edition, we are told of how and where to find these future friends and what to expect of them. We find these ‘future fellows’ in our own community which is where the Home Group is totally effective. Sobriety begins at the Home Group level.
The Big Book goes on to describe what to expect from a Home Group. It promises that it is here that you will make lifelong friends, being bound to them with new and wonderful ties. To have friends by which you escape disaster and trudge shoulder to shoulder on your common journey is a Promise fulfilled as a Home Group member.
My first Home Group was a humble group of alcoholics that gathered nightly in an isolated community. There were literally one hundred or more bars, liquor stores, grocery stores and convenience stores between this group and the next closest meeting. The question whether to become a part of this common solution or try to face my alcoholism alone really was not that much of a decision. The Home Group is where I found strength to face my alcoholism began
The Program of Alcoholics Anonymous is not so much in the dry parchment of the thousands of pages of AA literature. That is simply a written reference. My experience suggests that the Program that saved my life and made it worthwhile is alive in the members of a Home Group.
Each member invests themselves into and makes a draw from the group- much like a cell simultaneously supports and is supported by the host in which it is attached to. Books, pamphlets or E-readers have never cried or laughed – especially in the same breath. An hour of honesty and compassion can be exponentially more persistent and durable than an hour of
Home Groups provide living, breathing, crying, cursing, laughing, shouting, caring and humble examples of sober living. Through the process of communion with others, the ‘suggestions’ become habits. Like ancient languages, many vital principals simply never make it to printed form – being passed on through generations of alcoholics by word of mouth and example.
One of our most effective methods of teaching and helping other alcoholics involves living examples and sound guidance. Home Groups provide guidance and examples to instill the Principles. Guidance on 13th Stepping is followed up with supplying the newcomer with a contact list of suitable members who will not take advantage of them. Guidance on Anonymity is reinforced by the examples of the Home Group members both inside and outside of the meeting rooms. Guidance on Sober Living is reinforced with the example of service to others.
Guidance on Respect for others is reinforced by the example of turning off your cell phone. Guidance on Supporting AA as a whole is reinforced by the example of purchasing AA literature with 7th Tradition contributions. Guidance on Change is reinforced by the examples of Informed Group Consciences, Substantial Unanimity and Minority Appeal.
Just like becoming a member of AA, you are a Home Group Member if you say you are and begin to be of service to your Home Group. Be a greeter, make the coffee, chair a meeting, clean up the meeting room and give of yourself so that others may live.
To adapt a common parable …’ Give an alcoholic a Big Book and keep them sober for an hour. Teach them to live sober and they will be sober for a lifetime … and pass it on to others.’