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There When I Needed Them

Audio Version   

AA’s Responsibility Declaration says ‘I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.’ These words were written for the 1965 AA International Convention in Toronto in an article entitled ‘How I am Responsible’ by an AA trustee called Ali S. This has become known as the ‘Responsibility Statement’.

My name is Alan and I am an alcoholic. For me, like all words, they mean more when put into action and that was exactly what happened to me on a Friday night in May 1984. The place was 48 Dundas Street in Glasgow

I remember nervously walking about outside in the street. Sixteen years had passed during which alcohol had ruled my life. I was sick, depressed and confused. However, I hoped that inside this meeting place would be someone who could teach me how to drink safely, for I had no knowledge of my allergy to alcohol nor its ability to create obsession, chaos and death. 

I plucked up courage and went upstairs and rang the bell. Two men took me in, apparently leaving whatever they were doing in the kitchen. Those two men were going to save my life and my sanity though I didn’t know that then.

The Responsibility Pledge went into action. I was carefully 12-Stepped in a corner with no distractions. These men told me how the drinking was an illness, how it caused chaos, fear, blackouts and family troubles in their lives until they got sober. After this sharing I was ushered into the meeting room and I have stayed sober ever since that night. Sixteen years of drinking ceased ‘a day at a time’.

I now thank my Higher Power for the hand of AA that was put out for me. Death, illness, loneliness - all were on their way before that night. These were replaced by hope, patience, some fun times, family recovery and much, much more.

Many years passed after that May night in 1984 and I was walking the dog near where I live at the Carbeth Huts where there are little holiday chalets. Suddenly in front of me appeared one of the men who had 12-Stepped me. I had not seen him for nearly 20 years. I quickly said hello and introduced myself. During our short conversation I thanked him for all he did on that first night I came to AA. I told him he had saved my life. He smiled and thanked me too but added he was suffering from cancer. He died shortly after this meeting. How glad I was we had met again.

So my 12-Steppers were there when I needed them. I reached out for help and the hand of AA was there for me and almost certainly countless others who came before and after me. I always remember the kindness shown to me and realise how important it is to put out the hand of friendship to the newcomer. It is in taking responsibility at the door of our meeting that examples of the real freedom and enduring satisfaction of life are to be found.

Alan M
Torrance Tuesday 12 Step Meeting