Chartered or Shackled?

Q : Oh my God! Do we need a “Charter” 
to start a SOS group?

A : NO ! You don’t need a “Charter” to get sober. And you don’t need a “Charter” to start a group or be part of the SOS family. If anyone tells you otherwise, they have another agenda. Our advice is never sign a charter !

In SOS there are 
No charters,
No formalities,
No bureaucracy,
No red tape,
No legalistic hassles or worries

Q: What is a “Charter” anyhow?
A : Originally, a charter was a statement of supposed privileges and rights granted by the Pope or feudal kings upon their vassals. For example, King John of England issued a Charter to the Catholic Church, became a vassal of the Pope and surrendered England to him. Later English monarchs issued charters to English settlers to rule the United States. 
 A “Charter” is often a means of control wielded by the higher power or authority. Today, some organizations have charters or issue charters for protective and legal reasons. A Charter can be used to sue people or groups and to threaten and control them.  

Q: Why are people tricked to sign a "Charter"?
A :
Many people sign a Charter because they are promised great benefits, and because they are afraid they will loose out by not signing.  Some people worry that they will be unable to continue using the facilities, service marks, logos or materials of the Charter organization, if they don't sign. This is of course already giving in to coercion and the first step to renouncing one's independence. 
This sort of subtle coercion has nothing to do with the traditions of SOS or the self-help movement generally. Recovering people have enough pressures without having to deal with big brothers and potential legal threats.
Lets be clear - Your group doesn't have to sign anything in order to be a bona fide secular self-help, group in SOS and you don't need a charter to use the SOS name, materials or be part of our organization. Its like sobriety - stand on your own two feet!

What could be the repercussions of signing a Charter?
Maybe nothing immediately. However, your group will always have to make sure that it is following the organization's rules by the book and you may be subject to spot checks by inspectors. At the very least, your group may  live with the knowledge, that if follows a different approach to the organization's governing body, then you could have privileges or rights withdrawn, your membership revoked, or you could be taken to court. A Charter is basically designed to keep you in line. You may want to ask yourselves if such a regime is really a free thought forum and a healthy atmosphere for recovery .
Take legal advice before you sign anything! Ask to see the constitution of the organization, show it to a lawyer and ask what the implications could be. 

Q: What if the treatment center or organization wants to have an accredited member of our organization to speak? How else will they know that I am recognized to present our views?

In the case of SOS if you need some type of accreditation we can come up with some thing. A phone call - a letter - a certificate -

The case being, we will find a way to give you the accreditation that you need. This should be a rare occurrence. We are prepared to deal with rare occurrences. In a free though organization we can deal with what ever comes up.

Duaine M
Duaine Metevia
Duane Metevia


Q: Surely, a “Charter” would never be used for legal reasons in the self-help movement?
A: Then why have one?

Q :  Can our group have a “Charter” from another organization and still be part of the SOS Family?
A : No. SOS would need to consider that, once you have signed a charter, you and your group could be legally bound to that other organization. Your group might now be in potentially difficult legal areas, which SOS would not wish to be involved in. You are now that organization’s “vassals”, so to speak, and no longer part of the free community of independent self-help groups, which make up the SOS Family.

Q: What does SOS offer instead?
A : We don't offer a Charter. Setting up a group is an
"Act of Independence". It is about taking control of your own lives, running things the way you want. Its a statement of independence from addiction and from the control of higher powers. 
Furthermore, we want groups to get started as quickly as possible, with freedom from red tape, bureaucracy, constitutional quagmires and legalistic straightjackets.
Our Priority is Sobriety!

Q : So how do I start a SOS group?
A: Well, clearly, you don’t have to wait until we confer a “Charter” on you, design a Coat of Arms or grant you Papal dispensation. So long as your group is based on sobriety, self-help and secularity, you can go straight ahead and join the SOS family of recovery groups, use the SOS name and publications, or use another name, publish other stuff and still be recognized by us. Why? Because trust and honesty are key to healthy recovery. We trust you and your group and believe you are honest in your sobriety. SOS treats its members and groups like adults, who have the common purpose of creating sober, self-empowered individuals and groups. SOS groups are all self-reliant, independent and “self-chartered”.

WARNING  : By signing a Charter you could be loosing your freedom of expression and democratic and organizational independence. You could even be putting your group at risk from future legal action.

SOS has no charter, we're all self-chartered!
Charters don’t keep you sober !
SOS keeps the sobriety path simple, 
and its organization

"As with the sobriety priority, healthy skepticism and rational thinking never go on automatic pilot........steer clear of quick-fix artists...An aware skeptic is less apt to be duped or enslaved"
Jim Christopher (SOS Founder)
from "Recovery without Religion"

How to start you own totally 
independent SOS group

Click below



Home Page
Times, Places & Contact Info for SOS Meetings
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Religious & Non-Religious Freedom is Practiced Here
Religious & Non-Religious Freedom
An Over View of SOS - What are we about?
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An Overview of SOS
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The Founder of SOS. How it came to be.
James Christopher
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Is Your Group a Cult?
Starting and Running an SOS Meeting
Startling an SOS Meeting
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Chartered or Shackled?
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SOS International Conference 2000
SOS International Conference 2002
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AA-SOS as One Member sees it
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SOS News Letter 2013

SOS Newsletter Spring - 2012
Val. 24 No 4

SOS Newsletter Summer - 2012
Val. 25 No 1

SOS Newsletter Winter -2012
Val. 24 No. 3

Collectors Editions


Agent Orange

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Orange Papers

Be sure to read them all

Web Master Duaine Metevia