From the June 2011 magazine.

June 2011: Lights Out

Even without electricity, a struggling alcoholic plugs in to a group’s sober energy

"Gingerly, I walked up to the door and opened it to find five people sitting in virtual darkness around a flickering candle, the result of a power outage."

My biggest concern in early sobriety was: I know it worked for you, but are you sure it will work for me? I believed I had fully surrendered and was convinced I wanted to stop drinking, but I wasn’t sure how AA would accomplish this. The concept of “One Day At a Time” had not fully resonated with me and the basic ideals of “unity,” “service” and “recovery” were an intellectual and spiritual stretch. My greatest fear was that I would repeat my tortured past, that the obsession to drink would come and I would succumb, as before. The result was always the same. I’d have a drink in my hand, echoing the words of many an alcoholic before me: “How did this happen again?!” Followed, of course, by, “Well, I might as well get good and drunk now.”

Around three months into my AA journey, I was ticking along on a spiritual sugar high. Then, my greatest fear, the obsession to drink, returned. I had just received unfortunate news in the mail and found myself in the grip of the obsession. My conscious mind demanded a drink. The compulsion to drink was so powerful that it was literally like a punch in the stomach. In the past, I had always folded and taken the drink.

-- Paul McQ.

Long Beach, New York

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