What is Chapter 7?
Myers Raymer, Alumni Specialist at Origins Recovery Centers
You know when you hear something and you just can’t stop thinking about it later? Well, it happened to me.
Recently, I was at a conference just sitting with some folks and killin’ time before my talk. A guy asked me what my favorite part of the Big Book was. I get asked this pretty often, so I was ready with an answer: Chapters 2 and 3 and – 7. Everybody got quiet and I saw this gal move her hand to her book and open it up. She looked right at me and said, “You gotta be kidding me!” I laughed and asked her why that was a surprise and she said, “I totally get Chapters 2 and 3 but Chapter 7 is Working With Others and we don’t really do that anymore, do we?” She said she felt that these days we just send ’em to treatment so we don’t have to know – or follow – any directions like this to do 12 Step calls. Now I love me some treatment, but I really love that Bill and the gang had worked out some key stuff here: the biggest being how to help our prospective member figure out whether they were just having a crappy day or if they might be headed for a real bad ending — like an alcoholic death.
In those early days, over eighty years ago, it seemed that the right thing to do was to spend some time helping folks understand all the stuff we learned in Chapters 2 and 3. (I’ll go ahead and say it, they qualified us!)
What this gal was missing was the same thing I had missed for years: that Chapter 7, Working With Others, was a lot like the chapter To Wives. It has very little to do with being a wife and tons to do with sponsorship. Chapter 7 gives us a blueprint on how to talk to a new guy or gal and, in a roundabout way, get to the heart of the matter: do I have a case of alcoholism or am I just making a lot of bad choices? The early folks seemed to understand how important it was that we were clear on our hopeless condition as soon as possible. They understood that any “lurking notion” was not a good thing and, lastly, they knew that it was our job to help the newcomer see this because we had lived it.
Most important was the fact that they didn’t wait until the new prospect sat in a hundred meetings before they got a clear understanding of their disease. Totally cool!
In this holiday time of the year, I hope we can all be grateful for what we have and, at the same time perhaps, rethink our responsibility to the new folks headed this way. I know we will love ’em soon, but can we love them enough in the beginning to help them see what it means to be an alcoholic or dope fiend of the hopeless variety? Takes some courage but I’ll bet we can do it!!!
Merry Christmas, y’all!