The church, AA, Recovery and Social Media

Recently the Café ran an essay on "pub theology" and questions were asked, around the edges, about meeting in bars and how that might affect those who are in recovery from alcohol addiction. On Twitter some questions have been raised about the prevalence of jokes about how drunk clergy and laity have been the night before or at meetings. How can the church strike a balance around responsible drinking of alcohol? Does your church offer equally attractive alternative beverages in places where alcohol is served?


Can social media be used to raise or further reflect on the questions? Meredith Gould offers some ideas:

God only knows what Bill W. and anyone else involved with writing The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions would have included had the Internet been invented by 1952. Until now, I haven't spent a lot of time contemplating this counter-factual. Now, thanks to ongoing situations and recent events, I'm pondering how social media might be used as tool for recovery.

Some situations have been on my radar for the 5+ years I've been actively engaged with (contemporary) social media. On Twitter this includes observing circling-the-drain behavior that sometimes shows up as a near-constant stream about what the person is hoping to drink, is drinking (while posting increasingly incoherent tweets), or drank.

On rare occasions, I've seen people in this category tweet about feeling crappy the next day without connecting the dots between feeling that and their drinking. I've also observed the swift segue into defensive public outrage when their public blahblahblah is questioned as…questionable.


Gould notes, a call to ministry- lay or ordained - does not exempt people from alcoholism or other addictions. She offers reflections on addiction, intervention and recovery from a place of having "been there":
And so here I am, someone with double-digit recovery called to digital ministry, offering these suggestions for using social media to work Step 12 and maintain hard-earned sobriety
Use the tools of social media to minister to those who are acting out on social media, especially the "back channel" (i.e., direct messages on Twitter, private messages on Facebook); also links to informative, educational resources.

Pull screen shots (or maybe create a Storify?!?) of (wet/dry) drunk tweets to document what's going on, then email them to the person. Think of this as a virtual intervention which, like face-to-face interventions may/may not work. As we know, people do not sober up because other people beg or threaten.

Become sensitive to Program language encoded in tweets and reach out to find others in recovery. Send a back channel note asking, "Are you a friend of Bill W.?" and then if they are, consider them your online go-to people for near real-time support and accountability.

Either block or remove from view (e.g., in a Tweetdeck or Hootsuite column) people whose acting out puts your serenity and therefore sobriety at risk.

Add tweets and Facebook posts to practicing "restraint of tongue and pen." And you'll screw that up, so remember to add online activity to your Step Ten practice of taking a personal inventory and promptly admitting wrongs.

In addition to being a "walking copy of the Big Book," become a cyber one.

Read more here.

Comments (6)

Authentic AA Groups have a ¨group conscience¨ and are self-supporting through their own contributions online or face-to-face. Some online groups have been operating for years and there is even a online intergroup that are 12 Steps and 12 Tradition observant with General Service Conference approved literature referenced.

http://www.e-aa.org/

http://www.aa-intergroup.org/

Thanks, Ann, for providing a great framework for my post and sharing it with Episcopal Cafe readers.

As you know (because you log frequent flyer miles on Twitter) I tweeted about the "interesting" response to the post. I could see how lots of people marked it as a "favorite" but did not re-tweet it. The fact that I also received a fair amount of positive and grateful "back channel" comments led me to conclude that stigma is alive and hell, when it comes to addiction.

As for Leonardo's comment: Yes, there are many online meetings available, with and without Conference approval. Yet another set of resources we ought to make available to the "still suffering."

To be honest, the "pub theology" programs are more fads or occasional programs then the essence what the church is based. Churches that continually promote these programs subconsciously promote alcohol use. The Episcopal Church is a church that promotes upper class living including drinking. These are greater discussions that should be promoted among clergy and bishops on what image the church needs to promote.

Can you imagine Pope Benedict promoting "pub theology" so heavily in his austere practices towards the poor?

To be honest, the "pub theology" programs are more fads or occasional programs then the essence what the church is based. Churches that continually promote these programs subconsciously promote alcohol use. The Episcopal Church is a church that promotes upper class living including drinking. These are greater discussions that should be promoted among clergy and bishops on what image the church needs to promote.

Can you imagine Pope Benedict promoting "pub theology" so heavily in his austere practices towards the poor?

I think the idea behind pub theology is that people are in a relaxed atmosphere that is neutral territory. They can also sit for a longer period of time without someone trying to rush them to make way for the next meeting or group or even party. It makes sense even though it may not be a perfect answer.

And may I add, just becuase it is in a pub does not mean people have to drink to the point of drunkenness. A person can sip on one drink (even a virgin one) for quite a long time. A pub is not a good venue for friends of Bill W., but for others it is just another place where people can talk about things that are important in their lives, like their faith.


Linda Ryan

Coffee House Theology? Tea Time Theology? Lemonade Theology? Whatevs---as long as it's convivial.

JC Fisher

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