AA Live Chat: Listkeeper's Blog

One member's perspective on Alcoholics Anonymous

Monday, June 25, 2007

New Meetings Added to AALiveChat.com

New meetings have been added to AALiveChat.com (http://www.aalivechat.com/), the nonprofit, 24/7, hour-by-hour directory of live AA text and voice chat meetings on the Web.

This is a great place to stop by if you're looking for a quick Web meeting, on-the fly.

Plus, if you'd like to see your own meeting added, simply email joed164@aol.com.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Inquiring Minds Don't Want To Know

Before I committed to the AA program, I spent a fair amount of time wondering how I could get through all those social situations where alcohol was the focus. Bars. Parties. Small get-togethers. Wouldn't people want to know why I wasn't getting hammered like everyone else?

Much to my surprise, once I took the plunge, I found that few strangers or acquaintances cared less whether or not I was drinking. The biggest eye-opener came from my close friends, who said nothing at all about the change. They all knew I had a problem, and were silently rooting for me. I thought it was an extremely classy move on their part.

From the vantage point of newfound sobriety, I also realized that there were much fewer people getting faced at these types of events than I'd imagined. Silly me. When I was drinking hard, I simply assumed everyone else was drinking just as recklessly.

I also found, and continue to find, that most strangers "get" the concept that there are people who would rather not drink. There are probably scores of reasons for this. But I'd be wiling to wager that one of the major ones is most people have an acquaintance, friend or relative who has had contact with Alcoholics Anonymous. They don't need to be brought up-to-speed on why some people don't mix well with alcohol.

Once in awhile, someone still asks me if I drink, and I'll say no. If they press me on the issue, I've found there's a good chance they have a problem with alcohol themselves, and that they are either resentful or curious.

If I think they're resentful and looking for a confrontation, I usually say something like, "I don't drink. It gives me a headache."

If I think they're curious, I'll hint about my own alcoholism, and dust off a trusty, old phrase: "I front-loaded all my drinking in my twenties and thirties." Sometimes they take the bait on that one and want to know more. Sometimes they don't.

The bottom line is that all my fretting over what people would think if I stopped drinking was for nought. As for the rewards I received for intially taking the "risk": it's good to be above ground.


Monday, February 28, 2005

Seen On The Web

Uneasy Rider: I'm someone who makes a long time solution for a short term emotion
-Annira, Recovery (AA) Coffehouse

Words That Stay: While AA discussion forums have been on the Web for years, a new crop of upstarts have materialized during the past year. Essentially, these "conversations in cyberspace"can go on for days, months -- even years.

Unlike chatrooms, where the interaction is in real time, discussion forums are more like bulletin boards on the Web, where someone posts a conversation starter, someone else stops by later and adds a response, and so on.

The handy thing about these forums is that all the conversations are neatly arranged in categories and "threads." So you're able to easily follow a conversation with just a few mouse clicks. Many of the posts are also extremely thoughtful.

Here are some AA discussion forums you can check out:

~AA Alcove Group

~AA Canada Forum

~AA Forum Group

~AA Living Cyber
~AAOnline.org.uk Forum

~AAOnline.org.uk Forum



~AA Roundtable Forum

~Alkie's Soapbox


Ghost In The Machine: An extremely inebriated gentleman staggers through the front door of a bar and orders a drink. The barman refuses him and asks him to leave, which he does, only to come hurtling back a few minutes later through the side door. Again, the proprietor tells him, "Sorry, but you're too drunk to serve, sir, you'll have to leave." This time he comes stumbling through the back door only to meet the same results, whereupon he wails, "Maaaaan! How many bars in this town do you work at?"
-Archie, AA Beginners Club

Alcoholics Anonymous

Monday, February 21, 2005

Solace Without Alcohol

Back in my early twenties, when my alcoholism really began to take hold, I could still "feel that warm thrill of confusion, that space cadet glow," as Pink Floyd would say. But like many day-in, day-out alcoholics, there was no joy for me in my drinking the year or two before I admitted I needed help. In the end, it was just a resentful trip to the liquor store, drinking alone, getting numb, resenting I had to drink, and waking up the next morning feeling like I'd been stepped on by an elephant.

These days, I don't have to take that trip any more. And while I can't say I jump out of bed every morning and do cartwheels at the prospect of each new day, I do have the self-respect of facing everything life throws at me -- the joys and the sorrows -- completely, and fully, present. For me, that's not a small thing.

I also find that when I'm living the Twelve Steps as best I can, the joys resonate longer, and the sorrows fade more quickly.

Honestly: I don't think I'll ever re-experience the quick-fix euphoria my early days of drinking gave me.

But I also see that fix for what it is: a lie I crawled back to again and again, always hoping it would be true to me, and always feeling it cripple my spirit just a little bit more.

The kind of euphoria I get off on these days is watching one alcoholic helping another, and if my own house is in order, getting the opportunity to help another alcoholic myself -- or simply to help another human being.

It's the kind of euphoria that, for me, builds imperceptibly inside me, and strengthens my spirit the same way working out sculpts a body builder.

Alcohol never did that for me.

Never will.


Monday, February 14, 2005

Seen On The Web

Minty Fresh: Some people drink deeply from the fountain of knowledge. Others just gargle.
-Windspirit, The Recovery AA Coffeehouse

Turning Point: I'm approaching 8 years sobriety, by the grace of God. But around ten years prior to that I was in a pub at Newtown with a work colleague and we were both very drunk. Now he tells me that I'm an alcoholic and we both then burst into laughter.

But the next day instead of a blackout I remember everything. Most strange. I then start to hear ads on the radio, "If you have a problem with alcohol, etc." I hear colleagues saying whatever you do don't go drinking with him, he'll get you thrown out of the club/pub, borrow money and forget to pay it back and hit on your girlfriend, etc.

The realization that he was in fact me was startling.

It was the combination of these things and others that led me to show them they were wrong and stop drinking for a month. I lasted 3 days and they were terrible. But after that and for quite a few years I kept trying and failed. Always I failed until it dawned on me one day that I was not my own master.

Alcohol controlled me.

I then went to St. John of God, and here I stand almost 8 years later, not only sober but I believe recovered.

What I'm trying to say is, did my spiritual growth start that day in the pub at Newtown?
-James, Alkie's Soapbox

Fixer Upper: When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.
-Windspirit, The Recovery AA Coffeehouse

Monday, February 07, 2005

Getting Over The Age Thing

When I first got into the program, I found it difficult to open up to people who weren't in my age group. I also found it very difficult to open up to people who weren't exactly like me. In fact, I remember feeling extremely resentful when attending my first outdoor AA Round-Up, and discovering that the keynote speaker was a woman. How could this person possibly speak to anything that I was thinking, feeling or going through?

Over time, those barriers melted away for me. I stopped looking at ages and genders and similar characteristics. Instead, I focused solely on straining to hear something -- anything -- from anyone in the room that would help me stay sober just one more day. They could have had six green heads and zoomed in on a purple skate-board for all I cared. If they had
something to say that helped keep me sober, I was grateful they showed up.

I'm the same way today. Sure, I love listening to and reading the insights of oldtimers who come out with those finely wrought gems of insight. But I'm equally inspired by a twenty-something newcomer with 29 days, because I know the courage it takes to keep believing in the program while fighting the cravings and trying to make sense of the sober life for the first time.

More than anything, the one tenet of Alcoholics Anonymous that kept me coming back -- and keeps me coming back to this day -- is that simple, beautiful, eminently efficient declaration: the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. You're a member if you say you're a member.


Monday, January 31, 2005

Seen On The Web

Charmed, I'm Sure: I know that I am not much, but I am all I think about.
The Recovery AACoffeehouse
AACoffeeHouse/hearedatmeeting .msnw

Chat Live RIGHT NOW: If you happen to log on to AA LiveChat (http://www.aalivechat.com/) between meeting times, you can still find AA members to chat with right now at the links below.

Unlike the formal meetings on the AA Live Chat schedule, these chats generally tend to be free-for-all, social gatherings, where people may not be talking directly about the AA program. Don't fret the small talk. If you pop into one of these chat rooms and type in something like "I think I may be an alcoholic, and I need someone to talk with," or "I have some questions about alcoholism, can I chat with someone one-on-one via Instant Messaging," you should have no problem getting someone to help you out.

More often than not, someone will contact you on-the-spot via Instant Message, and you can have a private chat with just that person while the others in the room continue to socialize.

Here are the links:

*e-AA 24/7 Chatroom (http://www.e-aa.org/)) When you get to this site, click "Let's Talk," and then click "Let's Chat." e-AA is one of my favorite AA sites. There's great sobriety here, and a tremendous amount of support available. Generally, there's usually at least one person in the e-AA Chatroom at all times. One technical advisory: make sure to turn off your pop-up blocking / ad-blocking software before trying to log into the chatroom.

*Yahoo!'s Friends of Bill W. (http://chat.yahoo.com/)Click "Health and Wellness," Click "Friends of Bill W.": Yahoo! actually has two chatrooms devoted to Friends of Bill W. (Bill W. was one of AA's co-founders). Given Yahoo!'s popularity, you can pretty much expect one or more people to be in the rooms here at all times.

*AOL's Friends of BillW (http://www.aol.com/community/chat/allchats.html):
If you're not an AOL member, clickthis link and then click "Try AOL Instant Messenger ForFree" to get access to AOL's AA chatrooms. Once you're logged on, use key-phrase "Friends of BillW" to betransported to the chatroom. If you're already an AOL member and logged on, click "People Connection," and use key-phrase "Friends of BillW." Like Yahoo!, AOL is a powerhouse when it comes to online chat. There are usually at least two Friends of BillW rooms up-and-running on the service at all times.

*Your Oft-Humble Servant (http://www.aalivechat.com/): I'm usually on AOL a couple of times a day under the handle "joed164." Feel free to IM me. I'm always up for a chat. (One note: sometimes I'm away from my PC, so if I don't answer your IM, it just means I'm momentarily pre-occupied, and most likely up to no good.)

*Swift Help Via Email: If you'd rather interact via email,and you don't mind waiting an hour or so, there are some fast-feedback services available, staffed by AAers who have promised to get back to you as soon as possible. e-AA promises super-fast feedback to email queries sent to this email address: helpnow@e-aa.org.

The Online Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous also has a rapid-response email feedback service (http://www.aa-intergroup.org/html/emailsteppers.html)

Fancy Footwork: No matter how far down the path we have traveled, it is the same distance to the ditch.
-Gene B.
The Recovery AACoffeehouse

Monday, January 24, 2005

Works For Me


-Not waking up with a brick in my head

-Not watching my life circle the drain as I look on helplessly

-Sometimes being able to see God working in my life when I decide to give my ego a rest

-By doing the Fifth Step, feeling again what it's like to have a child's heart after being freed from the wreckage of my past

-Accepting and dealing with the fact that both good and evil know all the shortcuts to my heart

-Being able to build each day from where I left off the day before -- rather than having to rebuild each day from Ground Zero

-Having an impenetrable sanctuary buried deep within, where I can find solace with my Higher Power

-Realizing that the easiest way to shake off the blues is to help someone else

-Seeing the concept of "principles before personalities" working my own life, and as a result, being able to have people in my life who otherwise would not be there

-Being given the gift of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous -- a universal toolkit that can repair any and all screw-ups ("No job too big or small")


Monday, January 17, 2005

Seen On The Web

Deja Vu All Over Again: "Gee... I don't remember having any black outs...."
The Recovery AA Coffeehouse

Quick Cliques: New meetings were added to the nonprofit AA Live Chat Online Meeting Directory (http://www.aalivechat.com/), with its recent update January 1, 2005, including a new voice meeting from down under, the AAustralia Online Recovery Group (http://www.aalivechat.com/Australia.Online.htm). The new group meets twice daily on Palktalk (http://www.paltalk.com/) -- at 8 a.m. Pacific, and again at 1 p.m. Pacific. (Voice meetings enable you to share with others via your PC's microphone and speakers.)

There's also a new UK-based meeting on Yahoo!, A Vision For You (http://www.aaonline.org.uk/meetings.shtml), which meets 1 p.m. Pacific on Wednesdays. And e-AA, (http://www.top-dog-home.com/cgi-bin/chat/chatroom.pl), one of the stalwarts of online Alcholics Anonymous, also has a few more meetings to offer with this latest update.

You'll also find a new listing of Chat Live RIGHT NOW(http://www.aalivechat.com/Chat.Live.RIGHT.NOW.htm) resources, which you can use to connect instantly with another AAer to chat about alcoholism, one-to-one, 24/7. I hope the update will be of use to you. If you have news of other AA chat meetings not listed on the directory, or a meeting time change that's not reflected on the schedule, feel free to zip me an email.
-AA Live Chat

I'm With Bozo: We may have the monkey off our backs. However, the circus is still in town.
The Recovery AACoffeehouse

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Scourge Of Commercialism

While online AA has truly begun to touch the lives and hearts of millions, it has also had a sinister side effect. Specifically: the rampant emergence of advertising -- and even outright retail merchandising -- on Web sites purporting to carry the message of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Whether it be links to online "gift shops" selling recovery trinkets, or brazen links to online merchants that have absolutely no relationship to the program and its message, an increasing number of sites appear more than willing to whore out the AA name in exchange for a few bucks.

Moreover, still other sites pretending to espouse the AA spirit have independently decided that simply having a desire to stop drinking is not enough to qualify you for AA membership anymore. Instead, if you want to get sober, you have to pay a monthly fee just to gain entry to the chatroom.

Such crass commercialism is beyond revolting: it's robbing hordes of potential newcomers of their chance to get sober.

How so?

When I first walked through the doors of AA -- a hardened, embittered cynic who believed he'd singlehandedly cornered the market on alcoholic despair -- one of the first things I hunted for with unending zeal was AA's "angle." I was convinced that somewhere, someone had to be leveraging the program to make money off the misery of alcoholics.

In fact, in my heart of hearts, all I really wanted to do was expose the imagined culprits for who they were, and then storm right back out those meeting room doors. My cynicism would be thoroughly vindicated. And I would be free to drink myself to death, convinced there was no spiritual alternative.

Instead, much to my chagrin, I found groups of people meeting in rooms with the most Spartan of furnishings. I listened interestedly as newcomers were repeatedly informed there were no dues for AA membership, that all contributions were voluntary. And I experienced more than a few meetings during which a basket had to be passed around more than once simply to collect enough for the group's rent and coffee.

Moreover, I also ran into one alcoholic after another who wanted no more that to extend a friendly hand, share a cup of coffee, and help me stay sober for another 24 hours. (Ultimately, It would be these same people who would rescue me from the life of a drunkard.)

But what really sold me was a simple transaction, a moment in time, when a literature person at one meeting I attended handed me a hardcover copy of the Big Book -- easily worth $20 in any bookstore at the time -- and told me the price was $5. (He also added that if I didn't have the $5 there and then, the group would be more than happy to arrange easy payment terms.)

"Wow," I thought. "These people may be for real."

Fortunately for me, I stayed on, and became convinced that AA, and the people behind it, are in fact very real. Of course, reluctant to part with my cynicism, I made sure I kicked the tires on the program until both feet were bloody before arriving at that realization.

In the end, I discovered I was the one who had something to prove not AA. For me, the program, and its principles, turned out to be true and pure -- much more so than anything I'd ever achieved in my life. To this day, I still have the same reverence for the program, the same awe for its truth and purity.

That's why I'm more than a bit concerned when I see hordes of money-grubbing, so-called "recovery sites" springing up all over the Web, all more than willing to gussy up AA into a cheap hooker in exchange for some spare change.

And I shudder when I think of the unending hordes of hardened, embittered cynical drunks who are turning to the online world every day for a solution to their alcoholism are finding a brand of AA entirely different than what I found. Instead of finding spirituality in action, they're happening upon sites hawking "recovery" mugs and caps. Instead of finding spiritual sanctuaries, they're being hustled into online shopping malls. And instead of being convinced that the concepts of AA and profit don't even belong on the same bookshelf -- never mind on the same Web site -- they're being told they need to ante up a monthly, recurring fee just for the privilege of sharing.

The question is, how many of these sites have reinforced potential newcomers' jaded cynicism, inspired them to throw up their hands in disgust, and given them that final excuse they secretly want to get on with the business of drinking themselves to death?

Sad to say: it's already too many.

Of course, there are some shades of grey here. I believe most people accept that some remnants of commercialism can be tolerated in exchange for chance to help other alcoholics. There's a vast difference, for example, between an AA group hosted on Yahoo! Groups, MSN Groups, Paltalk or similar services, which run advertising in exchange for their free services, and a retail site masquerading as an AA group simply to secure direct profits for the site owner.

And I believe most people also realize that the groups on Yahoo! and similar services grudgingly put up with the advertising so that they can sincerely reach out to alcoholics in need -- much in the same way groups in the brick-n-mortar world have been using church basements and rooms in other non-program establishments to reach out to alcoholics the world over.

Still, the fact remains that there are hordes of online hucksters perverting the AA message for their own, personal gain.

The solution, I think, can be found in the Serenity Prayer: accept the things I cannot change, and change the things I can. Most likely, AA will never be able to eradicate all the sites looking to cash in on the AA name. But AAers can at least expose those sites for what they are, and take great care to have nothing to do with those sites.


Monday, January 03, 2005

Seen On The Web

Let's Do Lunch: In Hollywood, where everyone and his brother seems to have an agent, a man stands up at an AA meeting. "Hello," he says. "My name is Bill. I represent Ken, who is an alcoholic."
-Archie, Alcoholic Anonymous 2 (http://groups.yahoo.com, keyword alcoholicanonymous2)

No Standing Zone:
The length of time that it takes for people to take the Steps varies with each individual. I'm going to be a little controversial here because I believe it needs to be said: Most people suffer needlessly and take way too long to do the Steps. Certainly a cacophony of posts should follow but hear me out.

One of the traps that people often fall into is believing that they have all the time in the world to do the Steps. With most people coming into AA at, relatively speaking, high bottoms in many cases, we often find out that going to meetings almost daily and applying some will power gets us through without having to contend with those pesky steps. So, of course, why bother with Step 4 or whatever step we have little interest in taking? Our egos re-surge and tell us that we don't need all that drastic house cleaning.

Another trap we fall into is the self-directed program. We, ourselves, decide when it is time to move on to the next step. I know if I was left to my own devices I'd still be on Step 3. My sponsor told me when it was time to move to the next step. He certainly knew more than I about achieving sobriety. And he was right - he made me do Step 4 before I felt I was ready.

But then again, when am I really ready? When a rope is around my neck? The entire 12 Step process is marked by facing some unpleasant things about ourselves, facing some of our base fears, swallowing our pride, puncturing our egos, discarding old ideas for new. These aren't things that come naturally or easily to alcoholics as a class. They make us uncomfortable. They may be painful. It's simple but not easy.

We don't have to do the steps perfectly! My experience with each and every step has increased in the years that have transpired. And, believe it or not, working the last three steps each day mirrors the process of the first nine steps anyway. So, in an absolute sense, we can take our sweet time doing these steps.

The question becomes this:How long are we willing to continue to suffer from untreated alcoholism?
-Jim 8/8/80, Alcoholic Anonymous 2 (http://groups.yahoo.com, keyword "alcoholicanonymous2")

And Furthermore: It's never to early to get into our Steps. The point is to try and practice them to the best of our ability, not to master them when we think we are well enough.
-Archie, Alcoholic Anonymous 2 (http://groups.yahoo.com, keyword "alcoholicanonymous2")

(Alcoholics Anonymous)

Monday, December 27, 2004

First Blush

One of the toughest doors I ever had to push open was the one that led to my first AA meeting. I'd read through AA's Big Book beforehand, and even knew some people in other cities who had gotten sober with the program. But I still felt like an intruder. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to relate to the people inside. That a program that had helped millions of alcoholics get sober would somehow not be able help me. That I was barging in where I didn't belong.

Fortunately, I quickly learned one of the pleasant secrets of AA: the entire program is designed around the newcomer. The fact is, I should have known that I was walking into a room filled with people who had been waiting for me all along. Everyone inside was an alcoholic. Everyone had been thrashed by John Barleycorn. And everyone, in their own way, was eager to show me what had been so freely given to them: a life free of alcohol, a life that no longer circled the drain, a new beginning.

I was also lucky in that I had already made personal contact with someone inside that meeting before I'd even entered. I'd done a fair amount of research on the program before I stepped through that door the first time, and I'd hooked up with someone I met on a local help line. (In the U.S., you can generally find the help line of your local AA listed in the white pages of your phone book under "Alcoholics Anonymous).

I'd been calling the help line for a few weeks before the meeting, and I kept getting patched through to the same guy, who answered all my questions, gave me constant encouragement, and kept cajoling me to "take that giant" step and meet him in person at a meeting. I finally relented, met him there, and was introduced around by him to others who regularly attended the meeting. Within an hour, I had about a half dozen phone numbers, a "real live AA member" I could attend meetings with, and a small network of other AAers I could turn to for help as well. I was "in."

As things worked out, I ended up attending that same meeting for about a year, and slowly made my way around to other meetings. Most importantly, I stayed sober – all because someone on the other end of a help line took the time to bring me into the program, and show me around.

If you're thinking of checking out AA for the first time, you may want to consider your local help line as an easy way to take a look-see. In my experience, the people who work these lines are some of the warmest, most caring human beings I've ever come across. And yes, chances are, if you ask them to meet you at a meeting, you'll probably find they'll be more than happy to accommodate. In AA, helping other alcoholics achieve sobriety is one of the key ways we stay sober ourselves.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Seen On The Web

Sunny Side Up: Someone explained to me the difference between being involved in the program of AA or being committed to the program of AA. They said the difference between being involved and being committed was like a bacon and egg breakfast. The cook is involved, but the pig is committed.
Alkie's Soapbox (http://www.alkies-soapbox.org)

Pick A Door: I used to go to meetings and run out when anyone mentioned the word "God." Did not want to hear it. One day I was trying to escape again and a man stopped me and mentioned that he noticed I had a problem with that word. He had 32 years sobriety at that time. I was not impressed at all. But what caught my attention was that this person claimed to be an atheist.

I had about six months at that time and knew everything that there was to know about AA. Nobody could tell me anything. But I did know that the God word was all through the steps, so how could an atheist be here? I called that man a few names and just a plain liar. How could he be using these steps if he really was an atheist?

GOD -- Good Orderly Direction -- is what he told me.

I just left and decided I would never go to back to these nuts. They just were not as smart as me. About two weeks later, I realized that what this man was trying to tell me what worked for him. He was not trying to sell me or convince me of anything. He had something that worked for him.

What did I have?

Today I look back and realize that I was taught spirituality by an atheist. Where but in AA could so many different people get what they need and help others at the same time?
-Bill K.
Alcoholic Anonymous 2 (http://groups.yahoo.com/, keyword "alcoholicanonymous2")

Cutting-Room Floor: "I was once told that "it's OK to look back but don't stare."
-Clark E.
e-AA (http://www.e-aa.org/)

Monday, December 13, 2004

Slippery Slope

I've noticed that the holiday season sometimes turns out to be prime time for people to "slip" from the program. There's that great pressure to paste on an "I-love-the-world" smile, no matter how you feel. There are those year-end reflections about what it all means. And there are those reunions with family that sometimes turn out to be something less than a Norman Rockwell painting.

I've seen a cavalier attitude emerge here and there regarding slipping during the past few years. I've even heard some people go so far as describe slipping as "part of the process." I don't buy it. As far as I'm concerned, more than one AA member has been love-bombed all the way to the undertaker's suite on that euphemism.

I have an extremely strong opinion about slipping because someone very close to me got into a habit of slipping, and so far, has not made it back. He had six years sober. He was one of the people who inspired me to come into the program. He had completely rebuilt his life. He had gone from generating no income to being a co-owner of a small business. He was a joy to be around. He was "living large" as they say.

Then, about three years ago, he slipped.

And he slipped again.

And he slipped again.

Fast forward to today. His drinking is completely out of control. He just finished serving 30 days in jail for a DWI. He has lost his business. He's in his forties, and works for $10/hour at a job that he has to walk to every day this winter in the Northeast. He's lost his license for a year, and after that, he'll have to install a special breathalyzer in his car at his own expense for the privilege of driving. He doesn't even want to think what his auto insurance rate will be. At $10/hour, driving again will probably turn out to be an unreachable goal, even after the State says it'll give him another chance.

Part of his DWI sentence includes probation for a number of years, including weekly visits to a State-ordered psychiatrist, which he has to shell out for each week -- again, all on a $10/hour salary.

When I first got into the program, an old-timer once told me people don't "slip" -- they subconsciously plan to take a drink weeks before they ever lift that glass. Taking the drink is simply the culmination of their slow withdrawal from the program over a time. Makes sense to me. I also believe slipping has to be about as much fun as a game of Russian Roulette. Step right up and try your luck. Will this be the spin that lodges the bullet in the firing chamber? One person will know for sure.

I think what has helped me stay sober, and thank God, not return to a life of alcoholism so far, is that I took the advice of people who came before me, and completely committed to AA. I'm no poster child for the program, but I get it done. Every morning I get up, I hit my knees, and pray.
Every morning I get up, I do my best to live by AA principles. In the beginning, I sometimes had to pray silently for a solid hour or more to stay sober. I did it. In the beginning, I sometimes had to go to two or three meetings in a day to stay sober. I did it. In the beginning, I sometimes had to white knuckle it to stay sober. I did it.

When I first got into the program, another AA member gave me a piece of advice to use for those times I found myself getting a little squirrely about the program, for those moments for when I began to wax esoteric about the season, or my circumstances, or the secret to the infinite mystery behind the grand scheme of things.

"Whatever you do, don't drink," he said.

Works for me.


Monday, December 06, 2004

Seen On The Web

*Overheard at the meeting today: "There are no big shots or little shots in AA. One shot and we are all shot."
-Scottish John, Alkie's Soapbox (http://www.alkies-soapbox.org)

*Slippery Slope: When I first got into the program, an old-timer once told me people don't "slip" -- they subconsciously plan to take a drink weeks before they ever lift that glass. Taking the drink is simply the culmination of their slow withdrawal from the program over a time.

I know that for me the phrase above fits my actions to a tee. I could feel myself plan to take that drink. I would be smugly happy with myself that I was remaining "sober" -- but physically sober was about all I was. I was waiting and waiting for that opportunity to "slip."

To maintain my sobriety for good, I need to find a way to come to peace with my bouts of craving and I need to control my internal sabotage. I hope through the support of AA and groups like this I can find an inner peace that allows me to ride out times when I feel my obsession with alcohol take hold.
-Holly, AALiveChat on AOL
(http://groups.aol.com/), keyword "aalivechat"

*Defects/Shortcomings/Wrongs: These three terms are used interchangeably in our basic text because they mean the same thing. These are all things that we engage in that push God out of our lives.

When I engage in any of the classic defects I don't allow the sunlight of the Spirit to enter into my life. If I am envious of someone else I miss out on what God can grant me. If I am dishonest I cheat myself of God's grace. Any of these things serves to separate me from God.

Since God's will for me is to be happy, joyous and free I'd miss out on that too. Each day is the day I need to say to myself "His will, not mine - what would He have me do today?"
-Jim, "Defective Alcoholic"
http://groups.yahoo.com, keyphrase, "AA Beginners By The Book"

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

AA's Singleness of Purpose

For me, AA's singleness of purpose has been, and continues to be, absolutely crucial to the program's ongoing success. I've never bought into the view that AA can somehow be one, big, happy 12-step family, which can simultaneously cure every drug addiction, eating disorder, gambling compulsion -- you name it -- under the sun.

I realize such "big umbrella" 12-step meetings do exist, and if those meetings work for the attendees, I genuinely wish them the best. What I don't agree with is when "big umbrella" advocates barge into AA meetings and demand that the AA meeting morph into a generalized, one-size-fits-all, 12-step meeting.

As far as I'm concerned, this is tantamount to a group of Pagans showing up at a local church or temple, and demanding that the location become a nondenominational house of worship, merely for convenience sake.

Essentially: I don't know what it's like to be addicted to heroine. I never woke up every day and took PCP with my morning coffee. I have never -- and hope to God will never -- know what it's like to have a crack pipe as an extension of my body. Please don't ask me to pretend that I do.

Don't get me wrong. I always feel an immediate affinity to anyone working a 12-step program, no matter what their addiction. And I also believe that if a heroine addict, or someone with an eating disorder -- or someone with any other non-alcohol addiction for that matter -- shows up at an AA meeting, they should be received as guests, and later gently, sincerely and lovingly guided to a 12-step meeting that specializes in their particular addiction.

That said, if AA is to endure, the program needs to maintain the same, laser-focused singleness of purpose that enabled the concept to capture the world's imagination in the first place -- at least as far as I'm concerned. For me, this oft-vehement controversy is really little more than a labeling issue. If you want to have an AA meeting, make it about getting free of alcohol. Trouble with coke? Make it a CA meeting. Problem gambler? Check out Gamblers Anonymous.

As for facing the inconvenience of being forced to drive a little further -- or take the bus a few more stops, or peddle a bike a few more minutes, or lose a little more shoe leather -- to find a meeting specializing in your addiction, I guess my question would be: "Are you willing to go to any length to achieve sobriety?"