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Grapevine : July 2011
Traditions should not change but customs can. Greg D. Cromwell, Conn. What statistics? TODAY, at an open discussion meeting, here in Florida, I heard someone say that, "Ac- cording to statistics, 92% of people who come into AA don't succeed." I had heard the same number mentioned in a meeting in Canada previously and it concerns me greatly for many reasons. Here are a few: If I was a newcomer attending an AA meeting for the first time, what would I think when I heard that statement. Would it be wise for me to con- tinue in a program where only 8% succeed? Would I have a heart operation if I was told the chance of living through it was only 8%? Now let's look at the statement itself. 92% of what people? All the AA people in the program in the world? All AAs in North America? All AAs in a particular city? And how is "succeed- ing" defined in this statistic? AAs who come to the program and don't take another drink for 5,10or20yearsora lifetime? Are they counted as failures if they smoke some pot in their 50th year of sobriety? What about relapses? Are you allowed 2 or 3 or none? What about people who aren't truthful when tak- ing surveys? If I'm sober and happy for 25 years before drinking again, are those years wasted? I think these questions (and a statistician could suggest many more) point out how silly it would be for AA to try to keep sobri- ety statistics, especially in an anonymous program, and to my knowledge AA and the Grapevine have not attempted to do so. I do, however, realize that the number of registered groups is known and the approximate number of people in AA at a certain time can be roughly estimated. I don't know where such statistics come from. Could it be the the inter- net? I am of course aware that certain rehab centers do try to keep stats on their previous clients and maybe that's where some of these "facts" are originating. I am also cognizant of the unhappy fact that too many people that come to AA don't achieve long term sobriety and that makes me all the more grateful for my gi of sobriety, given to me on a daily basis contingent on the maintenance of my spiritual condition. Chapter 5 of the Big Book tells me about the people who do not recover but the paragraph begins, "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path." For me that's a promise and provides a lot of hope .... as long as I understand what "thoroughly" means. And I believe that statement is as true for today's ar- rivals as it was when the book was written. Bob S. Barrie, Ontario aagrapevine.org 9