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Welcome to Alt.Recovery (FAQ)

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Archive-name: alt-recovery/welcome
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1996/12/11

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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 (, or you can post
   to the newsgroup. If you post, please put the string 'FAQ' on the
   Subject line.
   This FAQ is now available on the WWW.
   URL is
   Note: Upper and lower case matter in that URL.

     * 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
   those questions.
   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
   in jest
   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
   behaviour pattern].
   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,]
   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,, and alt.rock-n-roll. rec.drugs and
   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
   anonymous account.
   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:
   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 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
   subgroups, like
     * 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. has been started for those interested in pursuing
   recovery through Narcotics Anonymous. has just been started for those from
   dysfunctional families.
   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 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
       used books.
     * 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
       day ...
     * 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 and read the group there.
    Welcome to Alt.Recovery / /

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