SOBRIETY REQUIREMENTS FOR SERVICE – Should there be requirements?

The comments below were given by various members of the Conference Steps, Traditions, and Concepts Committee and do not represent a group conscience of the entire committee. The opinions expressed here are solely that of the person giving them. Take what you like and leave the rest.

The Question:  What are the thoughts of the CSTCC on Sobriety Requirements for doing service in S.L.A.A.?


My experience with other fellowships and with S.L.A.A intergroup here in my area is that anyone is welcome to be on a committee/intergroup but there were sobriety requirements to hold a position or to be an officer. This always seemed to work out well in that everyone was welcomed to be a part of but we also took care of ourselves by having certain requirements if someone wanted to hold a position. __________________________________________________________________
I have some mixed feelings regarding sobriety requirements. While we read in the Preamble that the only requirement for S.L.A.A. membership is the desire to stop living out a pattern of sex and love addiction, we read in the Conference Service Manual that it is suggested that in order to serve as a delegate a member should have a period of six months sobriety. Since many of the committee members are or have been delegates, I would assume that they would already have at least that much sobriety. However, there are many good people who struggle daily with their sobriety who could be valuable committee members. Therefore, although I would prefer that committee members have some time sober, I would hate to refuse anyone the opportunity to serve. Doing service could very easily lead to greater sobriety. I do feel, however, that if a person were to become very active in their bottom- line behaviors that they should report that to the committee so that they could discuss whether or not they could continue to serve in an active way or whether it would be best for them to step aside for a time and work on their recovery.
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Anyone who was at the International Recovery Convention a few years ago and heard me speak (or has listened to the CD) knows that I had a slip just prior to the ABM and IRC. I went to both my Intergroup since I was a delegate and the IRC planning committee since I was scheduled to be the keynote speaker. My Intergroup came back with what I thought was an excellent response. They asked what I thought I needed to do for my recovery. Would it help to step back and have time to work on my recovery or would it help me to stay involved. They supported me either way.

I needed to stay involved. I was ready to run. I already had so much shame coming up over the event; I was seriously considering leaving the program. I discussed it privately with a member of our Intergroup who has many, many sober years with the program. He told me, “Leaving the program isn’t the answer. We need people like you to remind us all that our next slip could be just around the corner. What happened to you could happen to anyone. We are never cured from this disease. We sometimes lose sight of that.” The IRC planning committee was equally supportive.

Obviously, I stayed in the program and continued my service work. In my case, service helps to keep me sober… one day at a time. I talked to some members of the CSTC committee who were active at that time and they told me they supported me in my wish to continue to serve. For me, I’m glad we don’t have sobriety requirements for service work and hope we never do. I think the requirements have the potential to do far more harm than good.

For the seven years I have been doing service on Conference committees there has never, to my knowledge, been any sobriety requirements.

I have experienced horrendous lapses and failures by trusted servants who were sober in their self defined SLAA sobriety. My experience is that quality performance does not correlate with SLAA sobriety.

I question the value of sobriety requirements for officers. My experience is that in Intergroup, these have resulted in lapses of service when a capable trusted servant, resigned without notice and without mentoring a replacement, and the whole Intergroup and all fellowship members of the area suffered from the chaos and problems that resulted. The S.L.A.A. “slip” that occurred only once one evening, significantly affected lots of people. My thought is that if the person needed time away from service for their own recovery, they could perhaps have at least mentored their replacement. I think lots of people need to take time off from service, and I have no problem with people stepping down part way through a year. Hopefully they can still mentor their replacement.

My fear is that any sobriety requirements on Conference Committees, would reduce continuity, institutional memory, and service to the fellowship, rather than solve or prevent any problems.
I think sobriety requirements on Conference committees would do more harm than good to both the individual member, who would have to discontinue service, which is part of recovery, and the fellowship as a whole which benefits from the service.

Trusted servants have to step down from service for a large variety of reasons including illness of a family member. To add sobriety requirements to this list would, I think be harmful to everyone.
Also, I think any sobriety requirements would deter people from volunteering to do service on Conference committees, Subcommittees, Writing Groups, Task Forces, and Working Groups. Any sobriety requirements for any positions, would add confusion and chaos to the already formidable Conference level service structure.

My Intergroup changed some of its officer requirements from sobriety time to time in program.

Strugglers need the opportunity to be of service without the stigma of being a struggler. We also need new literature that will be helpful to strugglers. We need their participation to help us write.

Do we want to have a “Scarlet Letter” for strugglers in S.L.A.A.?

I think delegates and board members are a separate issue from Conference Committees.


What do you think?
The CSTCC is a group of volunteers, some of whom were ABM delegates, and others who volunteered out of interest. We do not represent a group conscience of S.L.A.A., but are committed to bringing thoughtful discussion and study of 12 Step Fellowship literature and experience to the questions that are brought to us. We offer this summary as the results of our discussions. We present the major points of concern in the hopes that wider discussion in the Fellowship will help us evolve our customs and practice of the S.L.A.A. program of recovery to better represent the loving guidance of a Higher Power. Always, we affirm the autonomy of each group and the need for each individual to follow her/his own conscience. No decision of this group, or any other, is ever forced upon another, even when we believe a practice is clearly in conflict with the Steps, Traditions, or Concepts.