Each group has but one primary purpose –
to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
Before I came to Alcoholics Anonymous I did nothing but argue and thought of nobody but myself, and then by the grace of God I ended up in Alcoholics Anonymous via a treatment centre. While I was in treatment I was taught to talk about my feelings, and becoming self–centred seemed to be actively encouraged. (This may of course be my perception as a self-centred, selfish alcoholic). I used to attend meetings and even though they read Tradition 5 out at a lot of them, I still did not get the concept.
I thought a meeting was a place I went to talk about how bad I felt. After being in Alcoholics Anonymous feeling miserable and suicidal and craving a drink for a long time, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a group that was taking Tradition Five very seriously. In fact it was at the centre of everything they did to make the meeting as it should be.
Our fifth Tradition states that our primary purpose is to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers. I have learned in my time in Alcoholics Anonymous, that I have never felt better for talking about how bad I feel. I always feel better for trying to think of what I can give in a meeting rather than take. I always feel better if whatever service I am doing, it is to the best of my ability with the newcomer uppermost in mind.
The two things that save my life when I came to Alcoholics Anonymous were people sharing their experience, strength and hope, and the identification. It was very important that I identified with what the people said to me. The identification gave me just enough blind faith to think maybe, just maybe I am like these people, and maybe, just maybe the A.A. thing can work for me. If people had been talking about gambling or drug addiction it would not have had the same effect. Our primary purpose is to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers not the drug addict, food addict or compulsive gambler.