Frequently Heard Misconceptions about the Road to Recovery Group
There are a number of common misconceptions about the group which have become apparent over the years. Below are listed the most frequently heard of these, followed by an explanation why each one is a misconception.
You can’t share at the group until you’ve done your Fifth Step
Any member can share their experience at the Road to Recovery group (if sober). Although most members who are sponsored in the group don't share until after Step Five. Newer members are often told by sponsors at the group, don't worry about sharing unless there is a long silence (five seconds). If there is a long silence then to share if they feel that they can add something to the meeting.
You can’t do service or be a group member unless you’ve got a sponsor within the group
There always have been active members of the Road to Recovery with sponsors outside of the group.
You have to wear a suit and tie when doing a main share
Visitors and those without a sponsor at our group can wear whatever they like when doing a share, there is no group dress code. However most sponsors within the group suggest that we smarten up preferably wearing a suit and tie to do a main share. The same is often said to sponsees who hold a position of responsibility at the group (GSR, Secretary, etc.)
People are not allowed to talk about God when sharing
The group tries to carry the message of the AA program, and God is the basis of the whole AA program, so sharing about God is more than welcome at the group.
People have to share in a particular way
Any alcoholic can share their experience, strength and hope on our common problem, provided they have not been drinking that day. Swearing, aggressive or intimidating behaviour in the meeting is also not tolerated. The only other request is that due to the size of the meeting we keep our shares short to give as many members as possible a chance to share.
You are not honest when you share – things can't always be good
We try to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers (Tradition five). This doesn't mean that things always go our way; sometimes things which we don't want to happen do happen. But the solution we have found insists that we try and think of others. We share honestly with our sponsors and then try to carry the message in such a way as to be of help to those who have not found a solution. To do otherwise would seem dishonest.
You have to put up your hand to share, it's controlling
When a meeting has up a hundred people in it and most of them want to share, people trying to shout their way in is not satisfactory. We have had up to twenty people all trying to share at the same time and usually it's only the loudest thats gets in.
The Secretary won't choose visitors or those they don't agree with, etc.
The secretary has a guideline on how and who to choose. Its purpose is to allow a wide range of experience. It gives preference to those sharing for the first time (visitors) and those who don't share very often. It is not a case of the first hand up gets in. The final “right of decision” on who speaks is left with the secretary, they are tasked with ensuring the message of recovery is heard at the meeting.
Members have to sponsor in a particular way
Members are free to sponsor however they like. It is none of the group’s business.
There is one member controlling the whole group
Like any other group the Road to Recovery members seek advice from and follow the example of those they trust. “Our leaders are but trusted servants they do not govern” – no member can demand trust. The group is a power greater than any individual and its conscience the ultimate authority.
The group is trying to take over Plymouth Intergroup
The group encourages members into service and always at the appropriate time, this has meant that over the years many have been nominated for Intergroup. The group only puts forward people who are willing, able and committed. How these members vote at Intergroup is a matter for their own conscience.
For everyone at our group we nominate, there are at least another five willing to do service at intergroup who we don't nominate. Members of the Road to Recovery group are also encouraged to rotate through, and out of the service stucture once they have been to Conference.
You all say the same at intergroup
When Members of our group get to steering committee level they are often asked by their sponsors to read the AA Service Handbook including the Twelve Concepts every day. If they all sound the same at intergroup its only because they are all singing from the same Conference-approved hymn sheet. There will often be points which just come down to personal preference rather than Tradition etc. Then you will find plenty of differing opinions.
If 12th-Stepped by a Roads member, you are only taken to and told about Roads meetings
When twelfth-stepped by a member of Roads the newcomer will only be taken to a Roads meeting on a Roads meeting night. If there is no Roads meeting that night they will be taken to the strongest meeting available. All newcomers are given a “Where to Find” with all meeting details on and actively encouraged to get to as many meetings as possible.
Investigating other meetings is actively discouraged
Road to Recovery members are frequently seen at other local meetings but not usually on Roads meeting nights. Most sponsors at the Roads suggest to those who are new to get to as many meetings as possible. Once through the Steps, if the newcomer is married or in a relationship a minimum of two preferably three meetings per week is suggested, and if single three preferably four. The Road to Recovery group only currently have three evening meetings per week, therefore it is actively encouraged to investigate a fourth meeting. The fact is that most people who attend our group like it and don't want to attend other meetings.
Meetings other than Roads format have been criticised as not being proper A.A. when members share on topics other than Steps and Sponsorship
When Roads members talk about Steps, Sponsorship and the solution contained in the Big Book at other meetings, they are frequently misinterpreted as always being happy and in some way criticising those people who are not. The Road to Recovery group like all others is autonomous. In fact our Sunday meeting has a Topic meeting format. The speaker chooses their own topic. A wide and varied variety have been chosen including ”Fear”, ”Resentment” and ”Relationships”. This does not mean we our not “proper AA”.
Road’s telephone responders will only pass 12th-Step calls to other Roads members.
It is nothing to do with our group which twelfth-steppers a responder decides to call. A Roads telephone responder is no different to those from any other group, they will try the people they believe to be most suitable to do the job at the time.
Any PI press report originating from a Roads source implies that the only meetings in the area are Roads meetings
This would be unacceptable. All members of the Road to Recovery group involved in PI are directed to the AA service Handbook and other AA literature including the Basic text for Alcoholics Anonymous. If they give a description of recovery from alcoholism dissimilar to a way another group does things it's because they are representing Alcoholics Anonymous not just one group.
Members are frightened into remaining in the group because if you leave this group you will drink and die
People often change their Home group and do not drink again. The founder members of the Road to Recovery group changed their Home group to start this one. It is also possible to remain at a group, drink again and die. Sobriety is not contingent on the meetings we attend.
It is frequently shared that “The life of each individual and of each group is built around our Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. We very well know that the penalty for extensive disobedience to these principles is death for the individual and dissolution for the group.” Bill W. 12&12
Members who leave the group are totally blanked – no phone, no talk – where is Love and fellowship then?
Many of those who sponsor have come across situations where friends of sponsees have left the group, often because they have been told something by their sponsor that they didn’t like. They then proceed to spread misinformation based on half-truths to anybody who will listen. Gossip and resentment can poison the minds of others. Sponsors in that situation may suggest that a sponsee keep away from somebody temporarily if it is causing them difficulty or at least avoid talking AA with them for the time being.
You have to put a set amount of money in the pot
The only time in the group history any amount was agreed was at the first meeting (£1.50 each) when we divided the rent between us in order to remain self-supporting. The group has remained self-supporting through the voluntary contributions of its own members ever since. The group is now considerably larger so everybody can put into the pot whatever they want to.
We tell people to stop taking medication
Because we are not doctors it is common practice for those on medication and sponsored at our group to be referred back to their GP for advice and help on coming off any medication. If a GP advises against coming off any particular medication we dont argue with them and if a sponsee wants to stay on medication that's up to them. If a sponsor doesn't feel comfortable sponsoring somebody on medication, perhaps because they don't have that experience, then they might pass the sponsee onto somebody else with more similar experience. Most people at this group would not sponsor somebody who stops taking medication against their GP's advice.
They make you queue up to get into the meeting
Our meeting often has over one Hundred people attending and sometimes well over fifty waiting to get into the venue an hour before the start. This has caused problems for local residents because we block the pathway and pedestrians cannot get past. It was also becoming dangerous because people were standing in the busy main road due to lack of space. Forming a line around the building is the obvious and sensible way of doing things. We respectfully ask that people join the queue out of consideration for our neighbours and for the personal safety of our members.