Dear Mr. SponsorPants,
hello im a sober member of aa. i have a conflicting issue though. The whole 90 meetings in 90 days thing...ive read the big book which contains the steps and haven't seen it anywhere...ive also noticed that people hear that and walk right out of meetings ..its re occurring where i live...the reason i ask you this is because i had someone call me and say that if i don't do 90 in 90 will i relapse...thanks ur website is really great.
Well thanks for the kind words, Sober Member.
First off, you're right, the suggestion for someone to do '90 meetings in 90 days' is not in the Big Book -- nor is it in the 12 and 12 nor any other AA lit that I'm aware of (nice loophole, Mr. SP!).
As my first sponsor told me -- and I've told other people I sponsor -- that the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is defined in the book from which our Fellowship takes its name. What people in AA suggest you do, or try, should always be held up against what's mapped out in the book. So your habit of checking input with the text is a good one. If I were to make any suggestion at all to you it is to carry on with that good practice.
This whole 90-in-90 is, however, a common suggestion, made often to new people, or done by AA members with some time (one of my sponsees with double digit sobriety decided on their own to do it again) to either help establish a foundation, or to turn up the volume on the meeting experience; get a "booster shot" if you will, of AA medicine. And there is much wisdom in the fellowship, based on our collective experience, outside of what the Big Book says. So yes, check and see if something's in the book, but just because it's not doesn't immediately mean it's not helpful or worthwhile. Common sense and feedback from others is a good filter for all AA direction. (In my case of course, when I was new, I had zero common sense -- and I'm not sure I have much more today -- so I generally stick close to AA principle and direction from trusted spiritual advisers -- both in the form of sponsors and sober friends.)
(I have to confess to having a bit of an argument over this suggestion. Some feel it means strictly that one goes to a meeting every day for 90 days. That is the spirit of the suggestion, yes -- but if you've got a conflict on one day and making a meeting is especially difficult, going to two on another day can sort of "make up" the missed meeting. I think it is unhealthy to be didactic about AA -- one should embrace the spirit of AA's suggestions, not just the letter of them.)
If you "don't do 90 in 90 you will relapse." I can't say one way or the other. There is more to sobriety than meeting attendance (though my sobriety isn't much without it, either.)
People who hear that suggestion and "walk right out of meetings" would find a different reason to walk right out if they didn't hear that, I suspect -- some people are just looking for a reason to leave. And that's out of my/your/our hands. Do I think coming on too strongly can turn people off? Yes -- and in a number of places the Big Book addresses how that is not a helpful way to be in the context of 12th Step work (and what is a meeting if not always that, eh?).
In your specific case, I would consider the source of the suggestion. Is this a person who generally offers you good, calm, sober input? Or are they perhaps a bit rigid or militant in their AA? I often think of what the Big Book says when talking about how we should frame our sober sex lives -- that we should "avoid hysterical advice" and to (paraphrasing here) watch out for extremes of thinking. That's a good way to process a lot of things, actually.
But alcoholism is serious business. People may call AA a kind of self-help group, but that's not what it is to me. It is a life-saving dose of medicine against my alcoholism -- it is a 24 hour reprieve each day which keeps sick thinking and profoundly self-destructive impulses at bay.
No matter who made the suggestion, or what you feel about them, maybe the universe is giving you a nudge? What harm can it do to hit 90 meetings in 90 days? Certainly it will be the aforementioned booster shot, and more importantly, rather than doing something for your sobriety, maybe it will give you the opportunity to do something for someone else's... and THAT is the best protection against relapse I know.