Ed Webster, who wrote The Little Red Book, joined with fellow AA member Barry Collins to publish it in 1946, calling themselves the Coll Web Co.
Indiana AA archivist Bruce C. found this bulletin, dating from 1953, in the Madison County, Indiana, archives of George and Francis Langellier. These bulletins were apparently being sent out by Ed and Barry to help keep people interested in The Little Red Book.
(George Langellier, who got sober in June 1943, was the founder of AA in Anderson, Indiana, see "Adventure of Recovery: The Beginnings of A.A. in Anderson, June 1943 - February 9, 1947.")
The Little Red Book
Bulletin Number Thirteen
Copyright 1953 by Coll Web Co.
Here is your third volume of Bulletin Number Thirteen. We present it in real appreciation of the help A.A. has given us in arresting our alcoholism, and for our privilege of service to you through the medium of The Little Red Book.
It has been a privilege, indeed, and we are happy to continue this effort, of help and sponsorship, by sending complimentary copies of Bulletin Number Thirteen to users of The little Red Book.
The Bulletin will be edited every few months and mailed to you as a partial fulfillment of our 12th. Step duty. We hope it may become a means of mutual help to better understanding of the A.A. Program. May it expedite our application, growth and maturity in the Way of Life which we have chosen. This is our humble ambition.
Prestige in A.A., or hope of recognition elsewhere are antagonistic to the principles of our Fellowship. They have no part in our plan of service. Our objective is to work with sick alcoholics who want to get well. We would suggest ways by which they can recover, and point out the barriers and pitfalls that will obstruct their paths of progress.
These alcoholics, entrusted to our care, test our willingness to serve. They are important to our A.A. growth, for the youngest among them is A.A.'s oldest tradition. But they must learn that we cannot recover for them, and that the greatest service anyone can render is -- to help them to help themselves. Knowledge of this fact Is essential to their success.
Since the primary functions of The Little Red Book*, and Bulletin Number Thirteen, are, "to carry the message to alcoholics," other drinkers may consider our treatment of the program too rigorous and exacting. For them this may be true. It is not true for the sick alcoholic, however, as his only hope of health, sanity and life lies in an orthodox interpretation, and practice of the 12 Steps. We believe that the 12 Steps were inspired in the hearts and minds of our founders by, "A Power Greater Than Themselves."
Non-alcoholic drinkers In AA. soon find that our 12 Step therapy prescribes beyond their needs. Not being compulsive drinkers, contented sobriety is neither a matter of life nor death for them. They are just disillusioned people who are trying to set bones that are not broken. The few who possess the rare faculty of open-mindedness and ability to profit by the mistakes of others may avoid breaking them. We do not predict, but wish them well.
Knowing the fatal illness of the drinking alcoholic and how badly he needs the 12 Steps in their entirety, we shall encourage him to live them. The terms of our slogan shall be, "help and service to all drinkers -- but primarily to the alcoholic." We speak and he understands our language, but (unless we preach) we only talk in vague terms to the others.
There are certain conditions under which alcoholics arrest their obsession and compulsion to drink. They are quite definite and demanding, whether we care to admit it or not. We do not recover from alcoholism without the knowledge that it is a disease -- that it is our disease. Our first assurance of success involves this fundamental truth. The next step is willing treatment of our illness, medically, if necessary, and then by living the A.A. program. It is not until we admit that alcohol has us beaten; that It threatens our very health and lives, that we become serious in an attempt to stop using it.
Even then we are apt to foul up our efforts with dishonesty, misconceptions, reservations, appeasement and self-deception. All these are dangerous mental attitudes. They, not only, block our progress; they often defeat our purpose. Since they indicate unwillingness to heal up completely, we will do well to recognize and quickly correct them.
Fortunately, we have before us the examples of thousands of A.A. members who are successfully living the program. It may be helpful to discuss, in this and later issues of the Bulletin, some of the ways by which they have gained and maintain their contented sobriety. The following list contains many suggestions.
Alcoholics are slow to realize their physical, emotional and spiritual insecurity, and how closely it has placed them to hospital, jail or asylum. They must find a way to permanent sobriety. A.A. points the way, but is not a natural or easy way for the newcomer, who has fought the idea of surrender for years. It goes against the grain for us to admit our condition; to swallow false pride: to concede that we, "are powerless over alcohol; that our lives have become unmanageable." It is dangerous to believe that our alcoholic minds will submit to 12 Step living without a struggle. They do not. That is why we live the program only a day at a time.
Self-deception, in a broad sense, is the alcoholic's worst enemy. Deep down in our mind lurks the desire to control rather than end our drinking. We should always be on guard against it. Another thing is the ease with which we substitute sedation for alcohol. Rationalization, wishful thinking and dishonesty also obstruct recovery.
Alcoholics should avoid sedation except under the care of a competent doctor; even then they had better not indulge long or heavily. We are trying to face reality. Sedation, the fantasy of overnight cures, the wishful thinking that medicine, drugs, pills, religion or will power can restore our control over drinking are misleading, hazardous thoughts to dwell upon. Honesty and reality are vital to recovery.
On the basis of present medical knowledge and experience there is no cure for alcoholism. Arrestment and recovery? Yes, but no cure in the sense that moderation will ever be a part of our drinking pattern, or that we will desire it so. Imagine an alcoholic only wanting one or two drinks. What a silly idea! How impossible! How untrue! So we remember daily that we are alcoholic, and that once that way, we remain that way. The A.A. program assures us contented sobriety but it does not qualify us to ever drink with moderation or sanity, regardless of the length of our sobriety.
Many, well meaning, members, often become the victims of pet theories and 12 Step substitutions. Discovering the 12 Steps to be synthetic concepts drawn from the resources of medicine, psychology, religion and the experiences of recovered alcoholics, they start perfecting themselves in these resources. The opportunity for the alcoholic's ego "to paint the lily", is unbounded. Supposition replaces reason and strange theories are advanced. If a little medicine is so good, why not take it all? If psychology is so beneficial, let's become psychiatrists. Since we have borrowed so freely from religion, why not fully adopt it? Or better yet, why not dry up on will power?
It is neither safe nor wise, "to go off the deep end." in scientific research of medicine and religion for a better program than we already have. The A.A. books at our disposal contain a summation of the facts we need to know, and are qualified to learn. Members who mess up the program with 12 Step substitutes soon become so confounded with their own wisdom that they end up drunk.
The prescribed method of dealing with all 12 Step substitutions is -- forget them. Experience proves that our founders borrowed just enough from medicine and theology to make the 12 Steps an adequate means of arresting alcoholism. To borrow more gives us too much; by taking less we have too little. Will power has proved a worthless substitute for the 12 Steps.
Alcoholics need an honest evaluation of their condition plus a good concept of the working principles of the A.A. program. Success requires a close study of both, and the belief that contented sobriety is the result of their daily practice. By faith, study and practice we acquire our goal.
Alcoholics most likely to arrest their illness are those who fully admit and wholeheartedly live the program to get well. They ask no wet nursing and do not brood in self-pity over conditions they cannot change. They convert their weakness into strength which they eventually pass on to other alcoholics.
The few who fail may be the dupes of self-deception. The easy terms of A.A. membership lull them into a sense of false security. The idea of no fees, dues, rules, laws or restrictions appeals to their rebellious alcoholic personalities. They accept the 12 Steps exactly as represented -- suggested steps, only. They are, rightly, told to make the program simple. Simple inadequately expresses their lukewarm attempt.
They overlook the fact that our founders borrowed the 12 Steps from natural, scientific and spiritual laws of operation, control and compensation. Suggestions in A.A., to be sure. But laws unto the members who adopt their use. This fact is distracting, but regardless of that, each member is working under this precept, "to gain protection from the law, we must live within the law". Rephrasing this to A.A usage -- to gain contented Eobriety we must live the 12 Steps.
Failure through ignorance of the mechanics of the 12 Steps, or indifference toward living them, in no way exempts us from the penalty for failure. We must pay in terms of injury and suffering to ourselves and others.
The Creator's laws work to our advantage if we will condition ourselves for serious A.A. Living. It is a daily endeavor by which we learn to appreciate and take hold of the true values of contented sobriety. It pays us in dividends of physical, mental and spiritual health. It throws in self-respect and peace of mind for good measure.
The pay off is most liberal, The rewards are great. Strangely enough they are passed out freely, even in greater profusion than the penalties. The choice of living under discipline and laws of conduct is ours to take or leave. Successful members take it. Page Seventy in the Big Book implies that members rarely fail who follow this procedure.
We regret that we must end this discussion of matters so vital to our recovery from alcoholism. We will continue them in our next issue of Bulletin Number Thirteen. In the meanwhile we refer you to The Little Red Book from which many of the points discussed were borrowed. In closing we suggest that you keep your last drunk in mind, and remember the antidote for 12 Steps substitutions; namely -- just forget them.
THE LITTLE RED BOOK
P.O. Box 564