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The Newfellowship Service Proposal

This is the home page for the old "Newfellowship Proposal" of 2003. These documents have been retrieved from (now offline) just41day.net where the Newfellowship Home Page was hosted. The pages and contents are all described below.




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Vision for our World Service



     The Main text that outlines the program of recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous, didn’t have all the resources for alcoholics that we have today when it was written. There are new situations we will be forced to deal with in our new fellowship with all the new laws and regulations regarding alcohol recovery that have arisen in some areas of the world. Some of these resources can be useful in our work and some will limit our work in carrying the message. These are suggested guidelines how we may coordinate our 12-Step work with each other for carrying the message to those that want it and need it from our experience.
     These are not laws or rules but a suggested guide to aid the members and groups in their autonomous work with alcoholics. The best way to not have to deal with future problems is to be aware of them beforehand from members who have experienced situations that may affect our spiritual effectiveness in carrying the message. This will also serve as a guide for committee work within our fellowship so that we may coordinate our 12-Step work with each other in a way that would always allow God, as you understand Him, to express Himself in our group conscience.

Literature

     Most of our founding members of this fellowship received the gift of sobriety through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. The 12-Step program as outlined in their main text, Alcoholics Anonymous, works for alcoholics better than anything any of us have tried. “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path,” is the opening line of chapter five in the Big Book. We recommend that our program closely follow what is outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
     We will not be publishing anything as a business. Some Sections or other unified service areas may want to have their own books published with their own group donations to give away free or sell at cost. We want to discourage selling any literature as a means of raising money for any reason. The printing of the books could be contracted out to a private printer, or if the Section is very large they could print books themselves. Certain problems could arise from Sections printing their own books. One is the problem of paid employees that would be doing the work. Avoiding the development of high salaried management to supervise production and the future development of governing boards, legal positions, and the legal considerations that may create the need to incorporate will lead to problems our new fellowship may not wish to engage in. Any activities that could lead to problems of money, property, or authority should be well discussed among all members of the fellowship to allow a loving God to express Himself and allow a chance for some alternative ideas to be explored.
     Small publishing with group donations and coordinated by volunteer servants of the Group and even some volunteer labor or contracted labor might be a workable solution if there are no other options. Any member can buy a Big Book from wherever source he chooses. We are not going to dictate where members, groups or Sections get their books. We can provide information on where to buy books at cost or low cost for those members who do not wish to financially support organizations or businesses that wish to make money from the Big Books. There are some concerned Groups that have formed outside the fellowship to provide low-cost books to the fellowship. As long as there are no ties by money, management, or business to these entities I think we can purchase their books and distribute at cost as our local Sections and Areas wish.
     Each member, group, Area, and Section needs to be responsible for protecting the integrity of the message. The committees working with the public and going into institutions must also be watchful about the dilution of the message. Simple word changes can create a major change in the message. Any literature produced in the name of our fellowship should have the opportunity to be reviewed and discussed at length and over a reasonable period of time by the Groups within the Area the literature is to be distributed. There is a flood of recovery language and ideas out there that has, is, and will continue to enter the fellowship. The history of 12-Step programs has shown no benefit or growth from any of these new recovery ideas or language; if anything it has contributed to the dilution of the spiritual message and the continual decline in numbers of alcoholics that have been helped.
     Most of us know that the program outlined in the Big Book has worked for us far beyond anything we have dreamed. I think most will agree that how well it worked can only be described as a miracle. And because it still works it would be insane to try to improve on a miracle. But nonetheless, history has shown that people have a desire to translate, modernize, and interpret any spiritual work and adjust it to fit their own conception of their reality and life, rather that fit their life to the spiritual principle. For the alcoholic to adjust the message to suit his life rather than attuning his life to God and the spiritual principles avails us nothing as it becomes a half measure. This requires constant vigilance for all of us. We all can help each other in this regard through loving criticism and discussion. Some things may work for certain people but the recovery program as laid out in the Big Book always works for any alcoholic that utilizes it to the best of their ability.
     We may become labeled as a society of book thumpers but we will live and offer hope to the alcoholic who still suffers. It is a simple program, but we alcoholics can complicate boiling water for tea.

12-Step work – Institutions

     Institution meetings are those meetings brought into the institution by members of our fellowship where the alcoholics in the institutions are not free to attend outside meetings on their own. There are only two types of meetings in institutions, whether they be jails, prisons, hospitals, treatment centers, recovery homes, or any other type.

     1. Open Meetings: These are meetings that we may set up or even bring into the institution but they are open for any alcoholic to attend whether from inside or outside the institution. We must pay some rent to separate ourselves from the institution. In these meetings people are free to share or discuss what they want to. It is usually run like an outside meeting with a format, meeting secretary, etc. These meetings can be any type the members decide. It is suggested that these meetings do not become a closed group because the institution often doesn’t view our illness as we do and they would like all their clients, residents, inmates or whatever applies to the institution to be able to attend the meeting. People with problems other than alcohol should be made to feel welcome, but the format or secretary should express our singleness of purpose and explain that exceptions are made in institutions. Our members may also suggest other programs where the person may find help for their specific problem upon their release.

     2. Institution meetings. These are meetings where we are invited in by the management of that institution as a guest. In these meetings we are required to follow the rules and regulations that are presented to us. In an institution meeting we are representing our fellowship and carrying the message of our recovery program. We may share our personal experiences with alcohol and our recovery program, but we may not express any opinion on the institution itself.
     Carrying the message into institutions will always be the responsibility of the local autonomous groups near where the institution is located. If the local groups are too small to carry out the request, they may seek help from nearby larger groups. If there are a large number of institutions or one large institution where several meetings a week are requested, then a local committee could be formed. This committee may or may not coordinate as part of an Area service meeting; that is up to the Groups themselves. But the committee should send a representative to Area and/or to other institution committees that are nearby. The goal is for all of us to be linked to each other in some way to share our experience, strength, and hope with each other. By connecting with each other we can also share about any problems or solutions that other members carrying the message into institutions may encounter.
     Some institution intergroup committees combine all work with institutions in their local area. Some Intergroups that have many institutions elect a coordinator for Treatment Facilities and Corrections that coordinate the panels going into the institution. If there is a large panel that may divide and go to several different meetings at the same time, like in many of the county jail systems and prisons, a panel coordinator may also be beneficial. Other functions of an institution committee could be providing speakers or other forms of public information to schools, health fairs, or handling any other request from a public entity. They can also coordinate a contact program for those alcoholics getting released from an institution. It is beneficial to have as many functions as possible handled by as few committees as possible. When we have a committee for every this and that, then communication among members and groups in any one area is lessened and there are also crossovers in the service work. Fewer committees is also more practical because a member may have more than one panel or duty to the committee and for him or her to have to go to different committee meetings for each service commitment is time consuming and less efficient.
     Part of the duty of a panel coordinator or a corrections or treatment facilities coordinator is to meet regularly with a contact person of that institution. The coordinator and contact person can inform each other of any problems that may have occurred and keep each other informed of any changes in policy or regulations. Coordinator duties also include handling requests from institutions and introducing our program to institution staff and directors.
     Often people in institutions come from different geographical locations. Meeting directories and telephone numbers of 12-Step hotlines from as many areas as possible will be coordinated and updated as we grow and can be given out in the institutions. These lists can also include central contacts points coordinated by a committee, to serve any size area the groups choose, and will contain a confidential contact list of our members who choose to participate.
     When the committee receives a contact request they can forward the information to one of our members to call back or write a letter, depending on the nature of the request. It is not wise to give out personal information to people residing in institutions. If a person lives in a member’s area and wants to meet him on his release, it is wise to just give him a date, time and place to attend a meeting together. If arrangements are made to pick someone up from an institution and bring him or her to a meeting we suggest that the member bring someone along with him. It is always wise to bring someone with you on any kind of 12-Step call. There are not only numerous situations that may arise where it would be helpful to have another person along but it is also a good way for someone else to learn about this kind of 12-Step work. It may be wise to handle it like any other 12-Step call as we also want to avoid numerous committees and groups that specialize in one type of 12-Step work. A drunk is a drunk no matter if he or she comes from an expensive treatment facility, the local county hospital, prison, a mansion, or from the streets. They all have the same fears when they walk through our doors into our meeting rooms.

12-Step Work – Basic and Hotlines

Hotlines


     Many of our members have experience with 12-Step calls, but some do not. Like everything in our fellowship the purpose of this section is to serve as a suggested guide to aid our members in joy of this type of 12-Step work from our own experience. There are some new resources available in some of our communities to help the drunks that are reaching out for help and some that are no longer available. We hope this will cover enough ground for most experiences you may encounter, but the best way to learn is to go with members with the experience of 12-Step work if possible. Let people know in your groups that you would like to go along with them on their next call. The best information is in chapter seven in the Big Book, working with others. The story ‘Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three’ also has many good suggestions about 12-Step calls. In the story is Dr. Bob and Bill W. making a 12-Step call on Bill D. Much of the dialog is still useful today in many cases. Of course every situation is a little different as the drunks that are reaching out for help are not always in the same frame of mind.
     How the local Groups want to handle 12-Step calls is up to them, but the experience of other 12-Step programs saw a steady decline in the effectiveness of 12-Step work with the use of hotlines. Working with others is the foundation stone of our recovery; we need to talk to the drunk for our own sobriety. Many hotlines have become nothing more than an impersonal paid person giving out meeting information. If a professional answering service is used by the local groups and paid for by group donations the answering service should just ask the person calling for their telephone number. Then they can pass it on to a member from the 12-Step call list provided to them by the local group or groups. This way another drunk can call him back and personally talk to him. The person requesting help may not be in any shape to get to a meeting. We also need to talk to him about his problem for he or she may not be an alcoholic and we can be of help by directing him or her to the proper help or information for the specific problem.
     Also many drunks who reach out for help and call about a meeting do so only because that is what they think our fellowship is about; just meetings. They receive information about the meeting and then a few hours later they start getting sick and take a drink. Then they think they can’t go because they had a drink. Any number of things can happen with a drunk in a short period of time from simply changing their mind to something far more serious like having an alcoholic seizure or even a suicide attempt. The point is we want to take advantage of the opportunity to help as soon as possible. We find that often they are more receptive at this point when reaching out for help. They may have had: a moment of clarity, a demoralizing experience, or maybe a good old surrender, admitting that alcohol has them licked.
     For example, a call may come in where a person just inquires about a meeting. The best thing is to start right in with a question like: “Have you ever been to an _._. meeting before?” If the answer is no you might follow with: “Do you have a problem with alcohol?” If it is obvious that he or she has been drinking, then you may want to ask them questions like these: “How long have you been drinking without sobering up? How much have you been drinking each day? How old are you? How many years have you been drinking or how many years have you been binge drinking? Have they ever had a problem from sobering up like DT’s, hallucinations, or alcoholic seizures? Do they have any medical conditions like heart problems, diabetes, epilepsy, high blood pressure, etc.? Also you may ask them if they have been eating while they drink. The ones that don’t eat when drinking sometimes have a rougher detox.
     If the person states that he has never had a problem and he hasn’t had a drink for several hours ask him if he would like for you to come over there and talk with him about his drinking and share with him a little about our recovery program. Remember you should never go on a 12-Step call alone. It is always a good idea to bring a Big Book and a pint or at least a half-pint of booze. Some of us have been with drunks that were sitting in the corner of a room wrapped in a blanket, shaking, sweating, and sick and never had a seizure and others that appeared to be in good shape and coherent have had a seizure. The point is you just can’t tell who is going to have one and who is not, so it is a good idea to always bring the booze. If he had or has an alcoholic seizure while you are there he should go to a hospital. Remember we are not doctors. Medical help is always a good idea with alcohol detoxification, but sometimes it is not available, so we can help by just being with the person so he won’t be alone if there are problems.
     In some areas ambulances are very expensive and he may not want or can’t pay for one and sometimes the hospital is far away. If you decide to transport him to a hospital because he has had a seizure it is always a good idea to get a few healthy drinks in him to lessen the chances of having another seizure in your car. For this reason you should also place him in the back seat with the other person you brought on the call if possible. When they have an alcoholic seizure, they often won’t be aware they had one. Immediately after a seizure they may be unconscious for a few minutes. Sometimes they may look like they are not breathing (and you can always check), but usually they come out of it after a few minutes. Sometimes they sleep and even snore for a few minutes, but in either case if they have another seizure right after the first one you should call an ambulance. They might be disoriented for quite a while after a seizure. As soon as they are conscious you might want to try and get them to take a drink. Remembering their name and where they are often comes back shortly after a few drinks, but some can be disoriented for a much longer period of time.
     During a seizure it is best to leave the person alone. Don’t place anything in his mouth, including your fingers. You can move aside some objects that may be a danger to the person, like a coffee table, glasses or sharp objects. A seizure generally only lasts a few moments, so just remain calm and wait until it is over before you approach the person. Like was said before if he is unconscious just let him rest for a while.
     Now for the other alcoholic who may have been drinking for a long time, is older, has medical problems, or has a history of DT’s or alcoholic seizures. If at all possible he should have medical attention or a detox facility. Unfortunately not all hospitals offer this kind of help. And if the prospect has no medical insurance or money in the bank it will be difficult finding a place for him to go. In some areas like in the United States there are sometimes county facilities that may help. They may have a few beds they contract from a detox facility or they may even have their own program that is county or state funded. Our experience has been that far too often there is a long waiting list for a bed in these facilities, so we have the choice to have them drink until there is an opening or do the best we can to help them ourselves.
     In some cases a local doctor that is familiar with alcoholics can give them a medical exam and maybe something like Librium to prevent seizures when withdrawing from alcohol. We have had experiences with such good doctors who only charged a small amount for the office visit. A small reserve fund from a group 7th Tradition could cover such a visit if not too expensive. Of course the doctor legally has to tell you the person should be in a hospital, and of course we agree with him, but we can’t very well tell the guy he is on his own because he hasn’t any money to get the care he needs.
     What to do with situations like this where he cannot get the help he needs is to be prepared to stay with him for a long time. Some of the things we have done is call other members in our group and let them know we have a ‘wet one’ and would they mind having a shift sitting with him or her. If it is a female it is always a good idea to have a lady from the group there also and visa-versa. Sometimes things are set up so a team of two takes three to six hours and then another team relieves them. It is not necessary that both remain awake all night as one may nap on the couch but at least one other is there if needed. If the person you are making the twelve-step call on doesn’t live alone you may have to explain to the other people there what is going on. If they don’t want you or the newcomer there you might have to find a place to take him for a couple of days or if the person has no place to stay. A single member that has an apartment or house to their self is ideal or a member with his family that has a garage room or room away from the house is also useful. Some have brought them into their home but you need to make sure it is really all right with all of the family members first. Sometimes it is possible to get a motel for a couple of days. Withdrawal from alcohol is sometimes worse the second day, but once through that they are often much better by the third day. But the first two days somebody should always be with him. If any problems arise you are there to get medical assistance.
     We find that orange juice and white Karo syrup is helpful with the shakes. The sugar helps replace the sugar of the alcohol, unless he is diabetic. If the orange juice upsets the stomach, then it can be replaced by something like 7up, but you should get him to avoid caffeine for a couple of days. Vitamin B-3 (Niacin) and B-12 helps also, but if he has a serious liver condition he shouldn’t be given B-3. B-12 helps with the crazies alcoholics get when detoxing and sometimes for a few weeks after. Some not-too-spicy food should be available for them when they can eat something; the sooner the better. And if they can sleep that is also good, but usually if they can sleep it is only for a short period at a time. If possible have him sleep in the living room or where someone can watch him.
     Some hospitals are more experienced than others in treating alcoholics. County hospitals sometimes have more experience with chronic alcoholics than a suburban community hospital. We have brought drunks after a seizure to hospitals that gave them medication that takes several days to a couple of weeks to work and the drunk would have another seizure several hours after leaving the hospital. They were treating him for epileptic seizures, which an alcoholic may also have or develop, but alcoholic seizures mostly only occur in the detoxification process.
     Occasionally a person will just be having a rough time withdrawing from alcohol. He may be shaking violently and be just plain sick. On these occasions he may need a couple of drinks from time to time. Some of us feel that a good strong drink of two or three shots given over a longer period of time works better than a small amount given more often. If the newcomer keeps asking for a drink remind him that the more he drinks the longer it will take for him to detox. Sometimes we just tell the drunk from the beginning: “Look buddy, you are going to feel bad for a day or two, but if you stick with us this can be the last time you will have to go through this.” If the a doctor gives you medication to give him you can hold onto it but you cannot administer it unless you are licensed to do so in many countries. You just hand the bottle or container to the person and observe them taking it out.
     If he wants to talk, sometimes it helps to get him talking about his drinking and you can talk about yours. You will find this an important time for you and the drunk. He might feel bad about the shape he is in and the way he looks, but he will know that you understand. It is a great feeling when you pick him up for a meeting a few days later after he has showered, eaten, and gotten some sleep.
     We hope this part has offered some useful information. This type of 12-Step work is always successful because it contributes to our own sobriety. Some members and Groups have the time and a place for a drunk to spend few days. These Groups sometimes inform local facilities and county agencies that they will take drunks that are not wanted (drunks are sometimes not wanted because they have no money or the facility/agency has no bed). Don’t promise anything; just tell the agencies making the referral that you would be glad to talk to them. Everything else is outlined in the chapter of the Big Book in “Working With Others.” Enjoy.

Public Relations

     We need to be honest and direct with the public on any level about our recovery program and our principles. We are a spiritual program based in a dependence on a power greater than ourselves according to each individual member’s understanding. We don’t need to water down our principles to make them more attractive, but we also should not push our conceptions on other people. We should let it be known that the door is open for any alcoholic, regardless of his belief systems.
     Every member and Group is responsible for our public relations. With any activity with the public we should always keep in mind the 11th Tradition and maintain anonymity. With institution work sometimes it is necessary to give personal information and last names to be cleared by the authority in charge of the institution to enter. In these cases it should be known to each member involved that he couldn’t enter the institution anonymously. Also if a member is a contact person for an institution, a last name may have to be given, but we should always remain anonymous at the level of press, radio, and films or any public function.
     Like mentioned in the topic of institution work, if an area has an institution committee, then public information and request could be handled by them.

Principles of Coordinating Our Unified World Service

Districts and Areas

     A District is any unified entity of three or more groups from three or more different locations made up of representatives from the groups they serve. An Area is a unified entity made up of three or more Districts.
     Different meetings sharing the same locations should be considered a unified Group and may want to meet together for practical reasons, like sharing group expenses and providing for Group needs, like rent, coffee or literature. This unified Group would be acting as a financial steering committee attended by the meeting secretaries or elected representatives, although some Groups may desire to remain independent. A district will act as a committee and accept service responsibilities that are not being filled by other committees in the areas they serve.
     A District may or may not choose to elect a DCM, District Committee Member, to go to an Area Assembly. A Group General Service Representative, GSR, can attend and vote at District or Area Assemblies. At the District level he will vote on local concerns of his Group and at the Area level he will vote for issues relating to the Area. If the Group the GSR is representing does not wish to send their GSR to Area the DCM may carry the vote for that Group. Each Group has one vote throughout the service structure. That vote will be carried to the Area or Section by the GSR or by the DCM. For example, if a District has 10 active groups and five GSR’s are at the assembly, then the DCM vote counts as five votes.
     When a Delegate or Area representative goes to a Section Conference they carry the vote for the number of groups in all the Districts their Area is representing. For example if a Delegate is representing 10 Districts with 10 meetings, then that particular Delegate’s vote is for 100 groups, so he or she is carrying 100 votes. A specific issue may arise where the Delegate reports 40 votes in favor and 60 votes opposed.
     Any Area Committee doing service work in any District should inform the District of their work. The District may already be covering the service work themselves and not need the Area’s Committee. But it is wise to send a representative from the District to the Area Committee meeting. All decisions regarding service work will be made with the participation of the Groups in the area of the service work. No committee from a larger Area shall go into a community for service work without informing the District and/or Groups in that community. The local Groups always have the final word on any activity in their community.

Sections and the International Service Structure

     A Section can be any unified service entity of a geographical, cultural, national, or practical area. There may be a large area with many Areas, Districts, and Groups that may form a Section. There may be a large geographical area that just has a few Districts but is isolated in such a location that traveling to a larger membership area would be a great distance or difficult because of geographical considerations like mountains or deserts. Cultural needs such as language can also be a factor. There are cultural groups that have their own language that may not have their own country or may be a long distance from their country of origin. There can be a North American Section, or Mexico Section, or California Section, or mid-west Section, or Native American Section, or any other that serves the practical needs of the people. Some places may share the same geographical area but may use a different language and therefore different literature needs, which may be addressed in different ways.
     Every effort should be made to meet and come together as one entity wherever possible and with whatever differences there are. Translation equipment and translators for each specific language group needs can solve different language problems. The 7th Tradition can be used to purchase translation equipment by the Sections or Areas involved or be purchased by the Section Conference or International Conference as a one-time expense and kept and maintained by the entities using it. Of course as our fellowship grows there will be a need to purchase more translation equipment but also as the fellowship grows so will the group donations, hopefully.
     The International Conference will come together yearly or every two years in our early years. The International Conference with elect the members of the International Communications Committee. Each person on that committee will serve four years with alternating elections every two years. The International Committee will be responsible for our International newsletter, which will be mailed to all Areas and Sections throughout the world. It will also be posted online and any group may also receive it for mailing cost. The International Newsletter can be copied and distributed along with the Section and Area Newsletters or as the groups choose. The International newsletter should be done at least every three months. Any important news affecting any large segment of our fellowship from anywhere in the world will be reported as soon as possible to the Sections and Areas and posted online. Any member, Group or District is encouraged to download the newsletter and copy it for their local communities and Groups.
     If a Section needs literature or Big Books in their language but can’t afford the cost they would contact the Communication Committee and they would pass it on to the other Sections. Every International Conference the Communication Committee will give a budget for the following year and a financial report for the past year. If ever there is not enough funds available for service work the Communication Committees on all levels of our service structure will inform the Groups of the need. If the money is not available then the service will have to wait. The Groups have the final voice with the representative process and also with the power of the purse. This will ensure our future free from money, property and authority.      All delegates from Area to Section or Section to the International Conference will serve for four years, with alternating panels every two years. If a vacancy occurs because of an elected committee position the delegate may wish to keep both commitments or drop his or her seat at the Conference to fulfill the committee responsibilities. In such an event the alternate Delegate will take the Delegate’s seat for the duration of their term and then can stand for the Delegate when the term is up. It will be up to the local Areas, or Sections how they want to fill the alternate delegate’s position.

Referendums

     Any vote, action, or representative can be recalled by referendum from the Groups. Ten percent of the Groups represented on any service level can call any issue for referendum to be voted on by the all the groups served by that service entity on any level. If any referendum carries a vote of 25 percent of the votes cast the issue is set aside until the next service meeting where it will be discussed and the minority opinion that called forth the referendum be heard and discussed. After which a new vote will take place. If the minority opinion motion is not defeated by substantial unanimity of at least 75 %, then the motion is carried over to the next assembly to allow for more discussion from the groups after they are informed of the minority opinion presentation at the service meeting.
     Any vote on any issue is automatically set-aside until the next service meeting or tabled for any approved period of time if the vote is between 60 and 40 percent in any direction. A substantial unanimity will always keep our fellowship bound in unity. The minority opinion will keep our fellowship informed of possible alternative ways to view any situation that may arise.
     This may seem complicated to those not used to such a process, but actually it is very simple once it is placed into practice. Remember our representatives will have more time without all the problems and issues brought about by money, property and authority.


     Please note any other issue or problem that may arise that you think should be addressed.


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