Grapevine Online Exclusive

Published October 2019.

A Retread By Any Other Name

No longer a “retread,” she finally returned to the program and found her life again

In 1981 when I first came to Alcoholics Anonymous, they were called “retreads.” They were the ones who left the program and came back with their heads hung low. I figured they probably hadn’t been rigorously honest with themselves in the first place. Or they hadn’t fully completed the first three Steps. Or the fourth. Spanked by the world and alcohol, they reluctantly dragged themselves back into AA. I was afraid of them—afraid of “catching” their delinquency and rebellion. That would never be me. I’d be clean and pure and value my sobriety like a religion. I wasn’t about to slap God in the face by taking matters into my own hands and drinking again. No sir-ee. 

Since the age of five, I’d known the dangers of alcohol abuse and the AA solution. My dad was an alcoholic who had come to AA in 1960. He was prompted by the potential loss of his family after my mom packed up my three sisters and me and left him. She told him she wouldn’t come back until he stopped drinking. Thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous, he was able to get sober, and never touched a drink for the rest of his life. I don’t remember him going to meetings; I just remember my sisters and I were all warned that we might be susceptible to the disease. I was the only one to succumb, and I received a hefty inheritance. 

-- Loni C.

Redwood City, Calif.

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