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Subject: Welcome to Alt.Recovery (FAQ)
This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:23:02 GMT
Alt.Recovery FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
This article contains the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions
often seen in the newsgroup alt.recovery.
It will be posted monthly.
Version: 1.12 12/11/96
Submissions, corrections, comments, input, complaints, etc., should be
directed to David H (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com) or you can post
to the newsgroup. If you post, please put the string 'FAQ' on the
This FAQ is now available on the WWW.
URL is http://www.well.com/~dhawk/Recovery.html
Note: Upper and lower case matter in that URL.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
* A Pre-Ramble
* 1) What Is The Net?
* 2) What is a FAQ? (Frequently Asked Questions)
* 3) What Is Recovery?
* 4) What Are Twelve Step programs?
* 5) History of alt.recovery
* 6) What about Anonymity?
* 7) anonymous postings
* 8) mailing lists
* 9) computers as addiction
* 10) What other newsgroups deal with recovery?
* 11) Can we break up alt.recovery into subgroups?
* 12) serenity and computer networks
* 13) posting copy-written material, don't, please.
* 14) The World Wide Web and Resources
* 15) The Real Frequently Asked Questions
A Pre-Ramble = A Generic Story
Back in November of 1987 I was having problems with 'YYY', in that
things were not going well with my family, my job, or my health. It
was clearly time to quit, but how?
Well, I'd been on the net for a few years, so I logged into a
discussion area devoted to drugs and asked how to quit. I got a lot of
replies, mostly along the lines of "Just quit!" with a few of "Hey,
you use less than I do and I don't have a problem!" and throughout it
all was a constant refrain of "Whatever you do, don't go to meetings!"
So I created alt.recovery, since I thought that getting feedback from
people who were in recovery might be more helpful. I got a lot of
messages -- "Go to Meetings!" But I'm a loner, so I didn't go. (Later
I realized I was shy and scared of people.)
Things continued on for a while. I wasn't using 'YYY' but I wasn't a
happy camper. Then one day I got email from someone on the net: "Hi,
I'm new to all this and would you go to a meeting with me for
support?" Well, sure. So I went to a Meeting -- and was very
impressed. A couple of months later I went to another one! ;-) Then I
moved and someone on the net said, "Let me show you my favorite
meetings here." and I liked them all and started going to lots of
So, that's how I got started. Things got better after that.
1.1) What is the Net?
The Net is a loosely defined term that usually refers to what some
would call USENET, or Internet, or other distinct names. For our
purposes it's a connection of computers [computer systems] that
exchange messages. alt.recovery has to do with the section that swaps
broadcast messages -- what is posted to alt.recovery goes out to lots
of systems and can be seen by lots of people. This is different from
email, which is usually directed to specific individuals.
The key point is that alt.recovery is a broadcast media, in a loose
1.2) What is a FAQ? (Frequently Asked Questions)
Newsgroups on the net often have newcomers (to the net or group) that
ask questions that have been asked before. So the habit has grown of
collecting these Frequently Asked Questions into a document called a
FAQ, in hopes that newcomers will read the document and not re-ask
For more information about the Net, please read the FAQs in
news.newusers.questions. There are FAQs there that will make
alt.recovery more useful/understandable.
But here's a very short list of commonly used net shortcuts:
FAQ = Frequently Asked Questions [document]
URL = Uniform Resource Locator (used with the WWW to find pages)
WWW = World Wide Web
BTW = By The Way
OTOH = On The Other Hand
:-) = a smilie (sideways smile), used to suggest that this was written
JADP = Just A Data Point
FYI = For Your Information
MEGO = My Eyes Glaze Over (after reading the net too long)
IMHO = In My Humble Opinion
This particular FAQ (for alt.recovery) covers certain questions that
come up from time to time, plus it also provides an introduction to
the newsgroup. A separate FAQ for Twelve Step Programs might be
developed later. (section 1.4 below). You are welcome to write a FAQ
for a specific programs/problems/etc. Other material can be added to
this FAQ as well. Just post a reply to this FAQ or send email to dhawk
at the email address listed above.
1.3) What is Recovery?
Recovery--as used in alt.recovery--normally refers to the process of
people trying to recover [or free themselves] from ... something. The
something can be as specific as substance abuse, alcoholism,
compulsive overeating--or it can be more vague, like codependency [a
Some would define recovery even more broadly and go on to say that it
has to do with learning to cope with life. Feel free to define it for
1.4) What are Twelve Step programs?
A Twelve Step program/organization/fellowship is one that bases its
principles of recovery on the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous,
AA. A frequent abbreviation for Twelve Step programs is '*A' since
many Twelve Step groups have 'Anonymous' as the last word in their
1.5) History of alt.recovery [from David H, firstname.lastname@example.org]
Was alt.recovery started for Twelve Steppers? No.
Background: Originally newsgroups on USENET had names like net.flame
and net.women and net.jokes, etc. Then there was a big renaming and
new categories like soc, talk, news, sci, and comp were created. To
create a newsgroup in one of these categories is a fairly complicated
procedure, and involves taking votes and posting results, etc. And
certain groups, like ones about sex, kept getting voted down.
So a few system administrators started up the alt network. It uses the
same software and the same format, but it's a more open network.
Basically if you're a system administrator and want to create an alt
newsgroup, then you can issue a control message and create it,
although it is more polite to announce that you're considering doing
so, and getting a little feedback. Because alt newsgroups are a little
closer to anarchy, they don't have the distribution (for the most
part) that the comp and sci groups do. (To give an example of why alt
was started, some of the first newsgroups in alt [after alt.config]
were alt.drugs, alt.sex, and alt.rock-n-roll. rec.drugs and soc.sex
had been a bit much for regular USENET.) [NOTE: presently a group
really should be discussed in alt.config to increase the likelyhood it
will be carried on a lot of systems. The above paragraph describes how
things were in the mid-eighties.]
alt.recovery: In May of 1988 (Before I ever attended a Twelve Step
meeting), I posted to alt.config suggesting the formation of
alt.recovery as an area for all people in recovery to talk. Since I
knew that Twelve Step folks had a tradition of anonymity I doubted
that they would be participating. After two weeks I created
alt.recovery. Its first day was 6/14/88.
Since then? Well, alt.recovery has had its ups and downs. Sort of like
1.6) What about Anonymity?
Most of the participants here are members of various Twelve Step
programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous. AA has a Tradition that states
that we should remain anonymous at the level of press, radio, and
film. (Other programs have added 'TV' to that list.) Use of full names
does happen within various meetings.
Even if you are not in a Twelve Step program, if you are discussing a
particular addiction/problem and are logging in from work or school,
then you might not want your boss/co-workers/etc. to know that your
postings come from you. Again, this is a broadcast medium. So you
might want to consider what anonymity means to you before you post.
So what does anonymity mean on a computer network? That's for you to
1.7) Anonymous Postings
There have been various individuals who have offered to re-post for
people so that you can have an article appear with no name attached.
Unfortunately many anonymous postings on the net *in general* have
been abusive and/or illegal. Many anonymous re-posting services do not
stay around very long. But you are welcome to sign up for one and use
one. For a list of anonymous re-posting services, check this URL:
It is sometimes possible to get your system administrator to create an
account for you to post and read from. However SA's normally need a
strong reason for doing so and some make a policy of never creating an
1.8) Mailing Lists
Some anonymity is afforded by email lists. This newsgroup is an
unmoderated newsgroup, which means anyone can post to it (and they
often do.) Email lists normally ask that you meet some qualification
in order to be added to the list.
You can get information about Alcoholics Anonymous email lists by
checking the following WWW page: http://www.crl.com/~pac/aa/lists.html
For other email lists you'd need to post on alt.recovery asking for
specific groups other than AA.
The Meeting of Minds group (usually referred to as 'MoM') is a
'closed' AA group formed to provide an AA meeting by electronic mail
and to publish an electronic journal. The Email meeting is a 'closed'
AA group which shares experience, strength and hope by electronic
mail. The meeting has, currently, a Step Discussion format. The
electronic journal published by the group is archived at
The group can be contacted by sending email to
Another group is Lamplighters. Contact Lamplighters at
Also, there's SOS -- "Save Our Selves" or "Secular Organizations for
Sobriety." Send email to BVYE08A@prodigy.com for admission to that
1.9) Computers and Addiction
It's worth remembering that networks themselves can be an addiction.
If my mental life centers around what I am reading on the network, I
consider that a warning sign.
1.10) What other newsgroups deal with recovery?
You may find some interesting newsgroups on the net that have the word
'recovery' in their name. Some are serious groups and others were
started as a joke. It's always a good idea to read a group and get a
feel for its purpose before jumping in and posting. Some have their
own FAQ. Also, you might want to check out groups with 'support' in
their name, if that's what you're interested in.
1.11) Can we break up alt.recovery into subgroups?
At various times the suggestion is posted to break alt.recovery into
* alt.recovery.twelve-step [for Twelve Step groups]
* alt.recovery.alternative [for non-Twelve_Step]
* alt.recovery.rational [for non-Twelve_Step]
* alt.recovery.alcohol [for alcohol specific recovery]
Anyone can propose a newsgroup in alt.config. You can try creating a
group and see what kind of traffic it gets.
alt.recovery.aa has been started for those interested in pursuing
recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous.
alt.recovery.na has been started for those interested in pursuing
recovery through Narcotics Anonymous.
alt.recovery.adult-children has just been started for those from
1.12) Serenity and alt.recovery
Reading alt.recovery won't automatically make you serene. Sometimes it
can even be counter-productive.
Some of the things that can be upsetting:
* Cross-postings where someone posted something inflammatory to many
newsgroups to stir things up.
* Crosstalk, or providing advice when it wasn't asked for.
* Discussions of religion [talk.religion.misc is a more appropriate
newsgroup for this type of discussion]
* Non-alcoholics, non-addicts who know how others should get
* Receiving flames in email after making a posting.
* Academic debates, esp., whether addiction exists or not.
Obviously, it would be hoped that participants in alt.recovery would
not do any of the above, but ...
What works for me? I do not have to read everything in the newsgroup.
And I don't. I use a menu-driven newsreader, trn, and pick which items
I want to read. After a while I have learned that certain people and
certain subjects get tiresome, so I don't read them. It's a 'take what
you need and leave the rest' style and it works for me.
Note, there's a FAQ in news.answers and news.newuser.questions called
'rn kill file FAQ' on how to use a kill file to keep from seeing
certain subjects or certain posters. You can also use a kill file to
keep from seeing cross-posted messages.
1.13) Posting copy-right material == get permission first
One of the issues over the years has been whether daily meditations
should be posted here. If you want to post a daily meditation from a
book that is under copyright, please get permission from the publisher
There's a great FAQ on Copyrights that's posted to misc.legal and
news.answers. Check out what it says on 'fair use.'
Also, you can write your own mediations and post them. It could even
be a net project.
1.14) The World Wide Web and Resources
The World Wide Web (WWW) is an interlinked, uh, web of resources. The
following web pages include pointers to more resources, so feel free
to keep exploring. The following URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) are
good places to start. All were working as of 12/11/96.
Al-Anon has at least one official home page. The URL is
And the following site is also sanctioned by Al-Anon WSO:
Cocaine Anonymous has its own official home page. The URL is
Rational Recovery has an official home page, URL of
Alcoholics Anonymous' official home page
Narcotics Anonymous' official home page is at
1.15) The Real Frequently Asked Questions
The following are some of the questions that new readers actually ask.
Many of them are of the type that can't easily be answered online.
* Q: Where do I get a copy of the Big Book, "Alcoholics Anonymous"?
A: Most meetings have one. Some will even give you a copy if you
can't afford it. Also, check bookstores, and especially stores for
* Q: An electronic version, wise guy!
A: AA World Services sells the 3rd edition on DOS diskettes. Your
Central Office should be able to order it for you. There are
copies of the first and second edition online for reading inside
the US. Any copies of the third edition would be in violation of
AAWS's copyright. If you have a WWW browser you can check out this
* Q: Explain the copyright thing, please.
A: OK. AA -- through carelessness -- let the copyright expire on
the first and second editions of the Big Book, "Alcoholics
Anonymous". The added material in the 3rd edition [footnotes,
intro to 3rd edition, extra stories] are still covered by
copyright and cannot be legally distributed on the net. AAWS would
prefer that the 1st and 2nd editions not be distributed either,
but has no legal claim to those editions. By the way, the
copyright only expired in the USA. The Big Book in all editions is
still protected by copyright outside the US.
As far as I know no other group or organization has let its
copyright lapse in any way, so distributing any other 'basic text'
would be a copyright violation unless you have the permission of
the holder of the copyright.
* Q: What's the spirituality versus religion debate?
A: Twelve Step programs claim to be spiritual, not religious. The
distinction eludes some people. There are members of Twelve Step
groups who are agnostic, atheist, or have rocks as their Higher
Power. If you want to state that Twelve Step groups are a
religion, then include the definition of religion you prefer to
use. Others may prefer to use a different definition and there may
be no resolution that pleases everyone. If you are God and can
rule on what one definition all people must use, then proof of
purchase may be required at the door.
* Q: Got any words of wisdom about the Lords Prayer debate?
A: Many AA meetings in the USA close meetings with the Lords
Prayer. At least in my area (California) more and more meetings
are closing with the Serenity Prayer instead. But since AA is an
anarchy, this will only work itself out at the group level. Since
alt.recovery is not a group and doesn't close with anything, it's
nothing we can do anything about. Please followup on this at the
group level. Remember that alt.recovery is a broadcast medium and
has many readers and posters who are not in AA, so don't expect
alt.recovery to solve AA's problems.
* Q: Where's the recovery?
A: Sorry, you're a bit late for that. Well, maybe not. Check the
sections above about how to filter what you read -- by using
menu-driven newsreaders and kill files. Also, there are two things
you can do to make alt.recovery more of a place for recovery:
+ Post about recovery -- post the type of stuff you'd like to
+ Don't followup on the negative threads. Takes two to fight,
* Q: Any words of wisdom on 12 Step vrs. non-12 Step?
A: Troublemaker. Ahem. People tend to be fervently for what works
for them. Unfortunately they seldom stop there, but often go into
detail about what was wrong with what didn't work for them. Maybe
that could be better worded, but the point is: if something works
for you, tell us. Say it loud, say it proud. Being defensive or
belittling what works for others can be counter-productive. [I
tried to word that in as neutral a manner as possible, and
hopefully I ticked off everyone.]
* Q: What's with the silly slogans, like One Day at a Time?
A: Well, if a silly slogan was silly to everyone, then it wouldn't
catch on, would it? Slogans, like Steps, can be multi-faceted.
They might not mean just the surface meaning. Always feel free to
ask, "What does that mean to you?" Don't assume that your
understanding is the only one possible. And if you hear something
in a meeting that doesn't make sense, ask the speaker what it
* Q: What if alt.recovery doesn't help me?
A: Go to a meeting, or create a program for yourself. Not all the
answers are online. I don't think I've seen a posting yet where
someone said that they got sober (or recovered) by reading
alt.recovery and that alt.recovery is all they need. Maybe some
* Q: alt.recovery.* [aa,na,adult-children] isn't carried at my site.
A: There are two things to check. First, if you can post to those
groups then the newsgroup has been created at your site. Otherwise
you need to get your site adminstrator to create the newsgroup for
you. Second, if the group is there and you see no postings or only
postings that are cross-posted from alt.recovery then it's a
'feed' problem. Your site administrator would need to see that
whoever feeds news to your site is carrying the group you want and
is passing along those articles. If all else fails then you might
need to get an account on a system like Netcom or the WELL or
world.std.com and read the group there.
Welcome to Alt.Recovery / email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org