Thursday, December 20, 2007

Letter to a columnist

The letter below is by Michael Walsh, convenor of the soon-to-be-started LifeRing meeting in Victoria BC Canada. He addresses it to Sharon Kirkey, a columnist who penned an article on alcoholism read throughout Canada, that mentions only AA as a resource.

Dear Sharon,

I am happy to see your latest writings on alcohol however I am dismayed to see that the only choice you provide alcoholics is AA. I have been in recovery for six years, five of which I have been completely clean and sober. I did use AA for the first three years but the religious aspect of the program does not sit well with me and does not sit well for thousands of others. Please see how many times God is used in the steps below. You also say AA is a self-help program which it is absolutely not. The old timers of AA would read that and scoff because they know (in their AA washed minds) that you cannot do anything without God. You are seen as a powerless soul and that your best thinking got you into the rooms of AA.

I know Dr. Cunningham as well as I went through Homewood Health Center myself and was provided an excellent experience.

Sharon, I am not knocking AA right off of it’s mantle but even AA head office in NYC will tell you that their retention rate is only five percent in the first year of one’s recovery. Further, sixty percent of people who go into recovery do so without the use of AA. Bill W is quoted as saying that there are many paths to recovery.

There are many ways in which people recover and I would really like to see people who are going to write a column in which tens of thousands of people read do more research and provide more than one route. It is like Starbucks or Tim Horton’s.

Treatment facilities, drug and alcohol counselors and medical/mental health professionals are actively looking for alternatives for their clients because many do not want to go the AA route or they stop going. Any counselor should tell you that a recovery program is different for everyone and AA is definitely not for everyone. Does anyone ever look into and talk about the failure rate of AA? No!

One such viable alternative group is called LifeRing out of California. It is slowly starting to get the recognition it deserves as major treatment centers in the USA are starting to buy into it’s program. Their website is I am about to start a meeting here in Victoria next month. Vancouver Coastal Health Authority has bought into LifeRing as of late also.

Sharon, you would be doing readers a great service by providing them with more than one choice in recovery. I will also add that Bill W and his partner both died of lung cancer due to smoking cigarettes. Bill W’s last speech showed him being rolled up in a wheel chair with oxygen tank in hand. There is so much tobacco use at AA meetings which is another reason why I do not go.

Thanks for listening and I implore and beg you to please issue a column related to my e-mail to you today. Many people will thank you for that.

Happy season to you.

Michael Walsh

310 – 283 Michigan Street

Victoria, BC

V8V 1R4


  • Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable
  • Step 2 - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
  • Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
  • Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
  • Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
  • Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
  • Step 7 - Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
  • Step 8 - Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
  • Step 9 - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
  • Step 10 - Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
  • Step 11 - Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out
  • Step 12 - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

1 comment:

Jack said...

I did not see the columnist's comments so can't comment on that. But I certainly commend Michael for drawing to her attention the matters that he did. I would also encourage him to contact the local Victoria press and ask for an interview and an article a soon as he has organized a meeting.