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What to do when just hanging on early and dry.
i have gone through the steps with my sponcee. she has attended meetings regularly. but when I talk to her on week ends she is obviosly drunk. should I confront her or keep meeting with her, and keep expressing the importance of honesty?
how have u stayed sober with your sponsor if she is not being honest with herself she teaches you honesty she is your teacher share your experince and talk to those who have had that experience we do not have the power to keep them sober or honest also working with others is a good chapter to read for you god bless you and us all
For the last three years I have been working on trying to get help for the alcoholic with mental health issues. At 22 years of sobriety I tried to kill myself as I was in utter despair. I have several mental conditions that make my life in sobriety very difficult indeed at times. My doctor has me on various medications which only work somewhat and some times. OCD can keep resentments or other negative thinking going round in an endless loop. I can be praying and on it goes as a constant background. Depression lays me low for months at a time and I find it difficult to listen at meetings and difficult to read as my vision blurs. I decided to make meaning and purpose out of surviving the suicide attempt by trying to get an AA pamphlet for the Alcoholic with mental illness. Hopefully some foreword by mental health professionals and stories from alcoholics with mental illness who are living sober successfully. Something to bring hope to the suffering alcoholic that they too might live and stay sober. The opposition has been huge despite the fact that Bill Wilson suffered badly from depression and wrote articles about it. His 1958 article about how he overcame his depression has only come to my awareness because it is printed in AA books I didn`t own. I do now. I recently made a motion for references to mental illness that already appear in our AA literature be added to the pamphlet AA for the alcoholic with special needs. That pamphlet contains one story from a mentally ill alcoholic. You would have thought, from the reaction of my Home group that I was suggesting killing their first-born. It was roundly voted down and people were angry with me. Where is the AA love in that Where is the Loving God as he may express himself in our Group Conscience if mental illness is already in our literature how can it be an òutside issue as some claimed. By the way, this keyboard will not allow me to type question marks. I simply do not get it. Suicide is not uncommon among AA members. Talk of suicide is common. One suicide in my group last year plus the suicide of a member`s sponcee. Why not allow a pamphlet or some other vehicle that would help the alcoholic with mental illness. I`m not suggesting discussions at meetings, just something that can be read privately by those who need it. many of us need it. So why all the upset about the issue. I ask respectfully and hope for respectful feedback.
1. How does practicing steps 10,11,12 continue to transform your life?
2. How did the 4th and 5th Step set you free?
3. How do we know we have Emotional Sobriety? (changed behavior from BB pg 52:2,60-62,73,82:3,xxvi;4 last
4. Recovered Alcoholic vs. a Dry One
5. What is a "Real or True Alcoholic" (BB 4th Ed. pg 21-22,23,30,31,33,35,44,92,109)
6. Joys and pains of working with another alcoholic
7. Spiritual Malady of Alcoholism
I'm a new GVR in my area. At my home meeting, the previous GVRs had established a tradition of reading a joke from a previous issue of GrapeVine. I was told that an archive of jokes existed where I could find some humor to share at my meeting. However after several hours of fruitless searching, I'm not finding any of the humor sections from previous issues. Ideally, I'd like to go WAY BACK in time, as I think some of the older humor is more universal. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
I have 6 1/2 years of sobriety…I had 1 glass of champagne on a cruise…does this really mean I have to start over counting?
Just make sure That is it!
If you are counting the days since your last drink, you
will have to reset the meter. Personally, I feel that the
small amount of alcohol consumed was not enough to set off
the obsession/compulsion. But mentally and emotionally it
is bothering you. A friend with over five years sober was
at a restaurant where drinks were served. One of the drinks
fascinated her and she dipped a finger and tasted it.
Nothing happened. Within months she was drinking again,
and drank without event a couple of years. Today she has
a few months sober and is still suffering the consequences.
"An avalanche of misery", I have heard it called.
You came to AA. I doubt that you are here by mistake.
More than likely, you are an alcoholic. Stay with us.
Don't take that first drink again. Consider yourself
lucky. In the future have a diet dew. ANONYMOUS
very ritual in AA comes with the question "What do you gain and what is lost?" I see the value in measuring our continued days of sobriety and having celebrations at certain mile-stones. It's an example that it works sure, but for a newcomer I don't know if 40 years is any more impressive than 40 days. In some regions saying our name and identifying as an alcoholic as a ritual has been embellished to stating our sobriety date. Generally it's a theatrical "thanks to God" or "thanks to you people." I guess the "thanks to ...." is a gesture of humility before they show off their impressive sobriety date - I don't like it, if you couldn't tell by my tone.
Sure, When someone's sharing, sometimes I wonder how long they've been around but some times I wonder how old they are or what they do for a living. But to go from ranting to the topic - sorry, - I think it's worth questioning our rituals.
If AA is to survive, nothing ought be sacred, nothing ought be forbidden. If there is great pride (tempered with humility - yes, I know) in being sober for X 24 hours or X decades, then it stands to reason that there is great shame, great humiliation in relapse. I don't want to get off topic about "is alcoholism a disease" but if we use this word, even as a metaphor, then relapse is part of having a disease. If two people have prostrate cancer and they both go into remission, one stays symptom free and the other has a recurrence, we wouldn't assume the relapse victim wasn't working his (Cancer treatment) program and "Sorry but that's what you get."
Maybe Al-Anon has it right. Al-Anon member's measure their journey (which includes successes and failures). I assume that if someone with 20 years of Al-Anon had a codependent outburst, they wouldn't change their "sobriety" date. I think there would be less shame involved in relapse if it didn't come with the added consequence of negating everything a member has learned and contributed thus far.
I have the good fortune of staying sober continuously since the 70s. Like my Al-Anon brother and sisters, I have not been a perfect "power of example." I have had dry emotional benders, fallen prey to other obsessive compulsive habits, been financially embarrassed at times and failed at some romantic endeavors. I wouldn't think that my ESH would be a higher quality than someone who had a sip of champagne or even a couple of benders in between. The truth is I lived imperfectly and so did the other member. I think hers or his ESH has the same value as mine.
So, I question the whole tradition of counting and comparing dry-spells and wonder if it might be better for everyone if we slightly modified our ways.
Then, there's the fine nuances with the way it is now. Is the measurement of sobriety lost as of a single gulp, or touching our lips or how it happened? If I toasted the bride and drank a sip of champagne at a wedding consciously, because I was to embarrassed to say "I don't drink" or if I feared that refusing would make a scene, is that to be called a "slip" but if I accidentally picked up the wrong class and sipped rum and coke instead of my coke, is that an innocent mistake but not a slip? What if I ate a chocolate and found out after I swallowed it had booze in it? What about a meal at a banquette that had been douched in wine or brandy? In other words, is it a free pass if it's a mistake and a "slip" if we just said, "one sip is no harm." Either way, our "sobriety" has been affected.
How many opinions would there be from any of these questions? The long and the short of it is I think we are very ritualistic. I don't think that is good or bad but there are consequences that some of us benefit from and others suffer from.
Greetings! I am here on this chat site to express my personal opinion of the story in the issue of September 2014 entitled, "What about Drugs?"
First I want to say I am a member of the other fellowship where OUR third tradition states, "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using." OUR fellowship focuses on one disease, we focus on "the disease, ADDICTION." I am grateful for Alcoholics Anonymous and my predecessors who paved the way for OUR program to work. I am however, and continue to be, upset at members of AA who insist on continuing to think that AA is the solution for "addicts" It has been my experience, strength, and hope that many addicts get confused when participating in a program that focuses on the "symptom" and not the disease. I do not want to offend anyone however when addicts attend and participate in the AA program the message gets blurred. My hope is that individual members and groups would continue to adhere to your AA Traditions and steer the addict to a program for them. WE are not in completion with each other. OUR MESSAGE IS, "That any ADDICT, can stop using, loose the desire to use, and find a NEW WAY of LIFE." I would be very interested in anyone else's opinions or experience in this area. Thank you for being a part of my recovery.
I found your post to be really refreshing. I am an alcoholic plain and simple. I am not addicted to drugs or ever have been. When I got to AA we were focusing only on recovery from alcoholism. Then came the " ands" I'm an alcoholic and an addict. So what? No extra points for having something else. AA's singleness of purpose is being ignored more and more and I find it to be counter-productive. Your drug stories are not something I relate to and it wastes time that could be used for talking about recovery from alcoholism.
Working side by side, A.A. and N.A. can offer a
solution to multitudes in despair. Mixing the two
weakens both fellowships.
We of A.A. have welcomed all addictions to the point
where we are considered All Addictions Anonymous. We have
no one to blame but ourselves. With pride we accept the
praise of drug addicts who would rather come to A.A.,
because we are "better than" N.A. Sometimes we do help
them. They find the fellowship they crave.
We must separate the two fellowships. There are plenty
to fill both rooms. ANONYMOUS
I have to humbly disagree with the poster on this subject. I do agree with the concept of; it being wrong for people to go on about their drug use. However, I fail to see how using the statements "I'm an alcoholic & an addict" and/or "thankful to be clean & sober"; in any way dilutes AA's primary purpose, or unity. One of the most prominent features in the introduction of a newcomer to NA is; regardless of whether you have abused alcohol in the past; YOU CANNOT DRINK SAFELY NOW that you have crossed the line into addiction. Alcohol is yet another mind altering, addictive drug that will lead you into danger. In so many areas, there are 1 or 2 NA meetings a week; while there are a half dozen AA meetings a day. Do we really want an addict to feel unwelcome? They came to save their life. I was taught on my first day in treatment; substitute the name of whatever substance you abused, the Program is the Program, the Steps are identical. Why else would "Dr Bob's Nightmare" have made the final draft of the original Big Book? I can't believe that this debate did not come up, back then. This alcoholic- addict believes that it was important to include the fact that; alcoholics cannot use other drugs, & addicts cannot drink. Furthermore, it is a common pitfall for both; thinking they can "get away" with switching. How many sober alcoholics think that because a Dr prescribed mind altering drugs, they MUST be safe. We are all on the same journey; sobriety is chemical free. Unity is not threatened by opening our arms a little wider. Just my opinion. Thanks
I used to like to share on the writing of the day if i thought i had something to add and i don't see this available anymore or am i just missing where it is.
Last night a person just starting AA tried to contact anyone one spent 3 hours calling different contacts list had no response. She called AA hot line and was put on hold. Now that I and my group are more aware, we should try more to make sure this does not happen. Any ideas?
In my AA District, different groups volunteer to take Hotline calls when our Central Office is closed. A group member or two volunteer to take that commitment (maybe one night per week) and are provided call lists and instructions by the District Hot Line rep.
The Central Office in our District takes calls during business hours. After hours,calls are either routed to an AA Hotline volunteer (preferable and less expensive) or an answering service.
It is a challenge keeping the call lists up to date but this is all about service. The quality of our Hot Line service varies with the amount of time, effort and commitment put in by our service reps. You can help by attending a District meeting and volunteering to help out with the Hotline. You or your group could volunteer to take on any of the roles described above.
The suggestion that we started making in the mid 1990s was to tell people to call and leave messages, eventually someone would call back. Not everyone picks up the phone when they don't recognize the number, but I think AA members will return a call if someone leaves as message as to why they are calling.
Don't know how your AA hot line works, but it is possible with ours that the person handling the line would get a second call that they could not handle immediately. Ours works with call forwarding, don't know how we could handle it to get a second call to roll over to a different number.
Occasionally when chairing a meeting, instead of asking who would like to share, I will ask
"Is there anyone who does not want to share?" Once I had a no and one undecided. I find
that everyone has a desire to share, whether it is burning or not. Alcoholics love to talk,
drunk or sober. My first ten years in AA, we simply went around the room for sharing. I have
heard it called "Round Robin". IMO, it is the best way. Sharing by "show of hands" creates
all kinds of EGO problems. Certain members will always have a hand up. Newer members may
be led to believe that these are our "leaders". Newer members may be hesitant to raise a
hand, or maybe they want to be seen and heard and always have a hand up. That is what they
have been instructed to do when they leave rehab. "Get to a meeting and get your hand up".
This practice is another reason for our loss of effectiveness in helping alcoholics to
recover. Not our worst mistake but one of them. ANONYMOUS
This is a frequent topic of after-the-meeting discussion at one of the groups I attend. They have yet to come up with a formula that works. They tried going from one person to another, but some long winded people (mostly long-timers, not newcomers!) made it difficult to give everyone a chance to share. They tried tag (one person calls on the next person, which in this part is country is called "round robin," just to confuse matters). Same result. They are considering making an announcement to encourage brevity and also considering whether to institute a timer. A very thoughtful group, they don't want to do too much in the way of controlling people (knowing that it doesn't really work). Not a huge meeting, from 15 to 30 people depending on the night. Before the meeting, they already tell the lead (here we always have a lead) to keep it brief, which is mostly observed.
My first group went around the room in round robin fashion and it was understood that all in the room would have a chance to share. This was listed as an hour meeting but we'd go over, if need be, so all could share. The amazing thing was that we nearly always finished on the hour. If someone went a bit long others would keep it short, especially if we were closing in on the hour.
Another round robin meeting would stop at 5 til the hour and have all those who had not shared announce their name.
My first sponsor said sharing at a meeting was like spiritual breathing out and listening was spiritual breathing in and that we needed both. I liked that analogy. He also encouraged me to keep it short, to the topic and related to recovery. He always had the 12 steps in his hands when he shared to remind him of the steps of recovery. At first I thought that was weird, especially because he sometimes walked across the room to pull a grapevine out of the magazine rack before sharing. But, I grew to admire that he was always able to relate the topic to his own experience and a solution.
The AA program of recovery in six words
Trust God, clean house, help others.
But it is really simpler than that.
Help others? Put that on hold for a minute, it’s really more of a result than a commandment. Now we are down to four words.
Trust God? I don’t need to blindly believe in some supernatural force. I can see, read about, listen to and question as many successful examples of people, like me, who have tried it and had it work. I can try it, test it, see if it works.
Clean house. The big one. If I don’t do it, it’s because I’m putting my defective judgment that got me into this mess above that of all those who are doing what I can’t and I’m really not trusting God, am I? If I don’t do it then I don’t have a message to carry. If I follow the first four words then I am so please with outcome then I can’t stop myself from sharing the result with those who are still suffering in the disaster I was allowed to escape from.
Six words. I think about all of us have tried to ignore them, work around them, modify them, improve on them. I am grateful to be one of those who failed all of those and finally just followed them. The results were delivered, as promised.
It may be difficult to believe that you can fix your life with a six word instruction sheet. Isn't it more unbelievable that you can fix your life with less?
You got it. We do not ask the new person to pay anything,
to believe anything, or to do anything. We allow any and all
to sit in our rooms freely and welcome. We are grateful to
them for their time and attention. If they like what they
hear and see, maybe they will "keep coming". We are grateful
to AA for our new lives and are anxious to share it with
all who may need it. If they have questions we try to
answer them, but if a prospect listens closely the answers
They say that "Faith Without Works is Dead." I have
come to believe that Works without Faith is just as dead.
We gain Faith by listening, by hearing.
I base my beliefs on Bill W.'s experience. Bill did
not approach Dr. Bob with any kind of pride or arrogance.
Bill had been exhibiting pride and arrogance in those
first six months of sobriety. Not one alcoholic responded
to that approach. The humble approach worked. ANONYMOUS
The slogans and how members use them as tools in sobriety.
I am a writing instructor looking for a way to implement my skills and experience into a creative writing workshop. I am fairly new to the fellowship, and was recently thinking of volunteering with my sponsor at the local women's penitentiary. If possible, I'd like to create a safe space for the women there to heal and connect with others through the shared experience of writing. I was wondering if there are similar writing workshops or groups currently circulating that I could connect with . . . any other ideas and/or feedback is greatly appreciated.
It sounds like a good idea - you and your sponsor beginning a program in the jail for women that would encourage reflective writing and sharing. This sounds very different than an AA meeting; however, so I don't think it would be wise to affiliate the AA name with it. Check with your local jail and/or penitentiary and see if there is a way to create something like that. I would write a brief, bulleted summary of what you want to achieve and why you think it would be beneficial, then see if you can meet with someone at your jail to discuss it. I applaud your heart for helping women who are incarcerated to heal. Kudos for coming up with such an idea. You never know whether an idea will succeed until and unless you try to put it into action.
Missed your post a month ago, just noted most recent response, and I gather no one directly responded to what I think you were inquiring about.
There are several forums "out there" like this one on which people post their missives, some intelligible, some not so much. I recently discovered one out of Canada, I think, frequented by non-believers ("free thinkers," if you will). I think these can be an anonymous and relatively safe place for people to post, though obviously anyone can post anything.
But to your thought, that healing and a sense of belonging through writing would be good for those in recovery, I agree whole-heartedly. I probably wrote thousands of pages early in sobriety as I tried to make sense of this program, sort out the newly uncovered emotions, and generally try to develop a way of living sans alcohol. It was very therapeutic. In the setting you describe, I wonder if people would be helped by writing, or journaling, or whatever, about their struggles, about their triumphs, in sobriety, and given the opportunity to share what they have written with the larger group, kind of like a writing seminar I had in college - voluntary, but a good way to get feedback and insight.
Anyway, good idea, thanks for your post, good luck with it. Unless of course I too misunderstood what you were proposing...
take a look at page 64 in our book of experience "alcoholics anonymous." that is were the writing begins as far as our founders were concerned.
one of the greatest services I think you can do is sit down with another alcoholic and help them write a 4th step inventory. If you haven't done so yourself, start with that. Have your sponsor show you how they did it in AA. keeping in mind that 9 of the 12 steps are directly related to the 4th step inventory.
Good luck, I greatly appreciate you willingness to help others!!!
I have been here for several decades. I have never sat
down with another alcoholic to help them write a 4th step
inventory. I have pointed out to many that Bill W. tells
us how to go about doing the fourth step on page 50 in
the Twelve and Twelve. Bill gives us about 30 questions
to answer when doing the inventory. Remember, Bill wrote
this after fifteen years further experience in working
to develop our fellowship. I am grateful that no one
pushed me into "doing" the steps before I was ready. The
pushing may have sent me back out into the darkness.
They were truly suggestions, and I think we ought
to return to that method. ANONYMOUS
It’s too bad you have never had the experience of passing on how you inventory to others or had a sponsor take you through the steps the way Dr. Bob did. Bill does do a nice job with his questionnaire in the 12x12, especially about the instincts of life. I think it closely follows the inventory in the big book. If you read page 17 of the 12x12, it says something to the effect that the book alcoholics anonymous became the basic text of the fellowship, and it still is. The 12x12 proposes to broaden and deepen the understanding of the 12 steps. I feel the 12x12 ought to be used in addition to the big book, NOT INSTEAD OF and I think that is what Bill meant by the writing on page 17. I recently read in AA comes of age that as late as the 1950’s those who worked the steps had a better than 3 to 1 chance of recovery. Also try to keep in mind that Bill W was the only author of the 12x12 and was written after Dr. Bob’s death to promote the 12 traditions. The big book however was written with input from the New York and the Akron group including Dr. Bob, with around 40 members having input.
Back to Dr. Bob, if you look at page 180 in the big book- last paragraph, Dr. Bob says he spends a great deal of time passing on what he learned to others who want it and need it badly. It is said that Bob worked with over 5,000 drunks in the 15 years he was sober (prior to the 12x12 being written). In the big book story “ He sold himself short” the author describes how on Dr. Bobs afternoon off he spent 3 or 4 hours formally going through the programs 6 steps at that time, including the moral inventory. Please read it for yourself on page 262 and 263 of the 4th edition of the big book.
As far as the steps being suggestions, of course they are. Since the beginning of time, nobody has ever been able to get an alcoholic to do something they don’t want to do. That being said, since the sole purpose of an AA group is the teaching and practicing of the 12 steps, we shouldn’t refrain from talking about how we work the steps on the theory that it will hurt alcoholics. Alcoholics in denial don’t want to talk about alcoholism or working the steps. We are hurting them if we don’t by further enabling them.
Did those who worked the steps recover? Or did those few
who recovered work the steps? I see "working" the steps as the dessert, not the main course. We have to hold the interest of members long enough for them to become encouraged in practicing the steps. Bill W. explains this
in The Language of the Heart beginning on page 6.
We reach the heart of the suffering alcoholic by
sharing our experience, strength and most important our
hope. We crush them when we try to pile the steps on them.
Is 12 a pile?
Read step 12- having had a spiritual experience as a result of these steps (steps 1-11) we carried this message to other alcoholics (working steps 1-11 will bring a spiritual answer to alcoholism) and practiced these principles in all our affairs ( continously work steps 1-12).
This message is hope. If your hopeless try our 12 steps. If you can stay sober without them, your not hopeless. Why would you work the steps if you can stay sober without them?
Thanks for an intelligent response. In the past few years
I have come to believe that it is indeed the sole purpose
of the group to teach and practice the twelve
steps. I am further convinced that only the group ought to
be doing the teaching. One person just does not offer the
wide variety of religious experiences which opens the door
wide enough for any alcoholic who wishes to recover. I
believe this limited one person's opinion is one of the
main causes for our stagnation in recent years. It is just
too limiting. Thanks again for the message which seems to
be arrogance free. My concern is really for the future
of Alcoholics Anonymous. Our growth for the past two
decades has been dismal. Let us keep the research going.
"My name is Joe and I am an alcoholic. I am here
looking for help". That is the first step in its simplest
form. Why complicate it. ANONYMOUS
It seems like more and more, I end up sitting next to someone in a meeting who is checking emails, sending texts, surfing the net.....and NOT present in the meeting. I think if you need to be on your phone, go outside. It is distracting to the people who want to stay sober, to sit by somebody who is multi tasking and not really paying attention to the meeting.
Anybody have any suggestions on how to accept or get rid of smart phones in meetings?
My Home Group has about a dozen year round members and 8 to 20 seasonal "visitors". Everyone has a cell phone with about 75% being smart phones along with a few tablets. We start each meeting with a simple request that all portable electronic devices be turned off during the meeting. If someone forgets and the device goes off, the [daily] group leader stops the meeting and reminds the offender of Rule 62. After a couple of reminders, everyone seems to get it and phone and tablets are not a problem.
Though I agree with what people are saying about cell phones and the distraction: Smart phones can be a handy tool.
During meetings I often use my phone to look up a concept, tradition or get information on a pamphlet at aa.org website to validate what I hear in meetings. I also, access the Big Book on my phone so I can read from it as part of my share. Not to mention the cell phone dictionary comes in handy during a literature meeting. Definitions of certain words in the reading help give me a new perspective & understanding of the reading and what the author is trying to say.
An A.A. meeting is not a workshop. We are there to share
and to listen to each other. If there are 12 members present
and one person is speaking, eleven should be listening. Leave
these gadgets in the car, or at least concealed. ANONYMOUS
Most meetings I attend ask members to silence phones and respect others by not texting during meetings. Most members, including me, respect that request. I see more phone use (texting) among younger members at "green card" meetings where there is probably a higher percentage of folks who really don't want to be there.
If this was a problem in my home group, I would bring it up as a topic in our business meeting and ask my group to come up with ways to deal with the issue. If I encounter this in other groups, I figure it's their problem.
That said, I have an electronic Big Book on my phone, keep a page of notes of my favorite AA passages from the BB and have a link to an online searchable BB. I am hesitant to use these tools in a meeting but sometimes do as discreetly as possible. I say this only to point out that a smart phone can be used for more than texting, email and surfing the web.
great point! I had a freind that was following along with a reading on his phone. one of the less tech savy members was upset until he was shown the technology.
At a retreat a few years ago, the retreat master told us to turn our cellphones OFF, reminding us all that "You're not that important." I think that the best the person facilitating the meeting can do is remind people to turn cellphones off, on vibrate or "stun," and that if they get a call, to take it outside. The texting might be pointed out as being as rude as talking while someone else is sharing, or perhaps suggest that "If you don't need to listen, maybe you don't need to be here," though that may be a little harsh with the newcomer (for the veteran AA, it is not). Frankly, I think there are a lot of people that might benefit from a first step on their electronic device addiction, but of course that is just my opinion.
get up and move
After 13 yrs of anti-depressants and 1 year of sobriety, I came off the meds with a doctors guidance. Through working the steps with a sponsor I had found moments of serenity and peace that I had never felt even before alcohol became my solution. I thought my depression was "cured." 5 months later w/o meds, I am in a deep depression and wondering is it the lack of meds, do I need to go back through the steps, am I "cheating" with the meds and not digging as deep as I need to,etc. I am emotionally and mentally back at Step 1. The good news is I haven't drank and know drinking is not the solution. I am definitely not living happy, joyous, and free.
Thank you for your experience, strength, and hope with this issue. I know we have no outside opinions on medical advice but would like to hear from someone who has been through a similar experience. I am not unique :)
Many of us have mental disorders in addition to alcoholism.
The good thing about antidepressants is that they are not addictive. Treating mental illness as well as our alcoholism is the best way to stay sober. Most of us can not stand the unmedicated symptoms of the mental illness while sober.
I do think it is important to let the Doc know that I do not want anything addictive. I can not take those things according to directions. I would drink the whole bottle of cough syrup if it had alcohol in it. My Doc is sober too and he gets it.
I would never risk telling a member what they should do about anti depressants and other medications and always leave that to the member & doctor. I do, however, share my experience.
Like many in AA, I learned early in sobriety that I struggled with depression & anxiety. I did not even know what these things were or that they had a name. As a drinker, depression was just the emotional low part of a hangover that occurred in between binges. Anxiety was that uptight feeling that was immediately removed by a few drinks. As a sober member of AA, these afflictions were on me and I didn't know how to shake them. Also, the finely tuned anti depressants available today were not around when I sobered up 27 years ago. I had to find another way.
I dove into meetings and steps with a vengeance as they provided some relief. It was wonderful to be able to share with others and realize I was not alone with this malady. The honesty in AA helped me be honest about me and the steps helped me unravel what was at the root of my problems. Developing a relationship with a Higher Power gave me somewhere to go with my agony. Being of service helped me get out of myself.
I was also fortunate to have been an athlete. Despite the craziness of my drinking, I'd been a runner and had gone through periods where I was careful about exercise & diet. I found that exercise took the edge off my condition and allowed me to sleep. I bought a bike that I called "valium" and rode it to meetings near and far. I also learned that I had to be careful about my caffeine intake and use of tobacco (chew). As a sober person, I could now FEEL the impact of these things.
I struggled with meditation and found it difficult to sit still. I stumbled into a yoga class 7 years ago to help my daughter with a spine issue and developed a regular practice that has become another pillar in my sober life where I find it easier to breath, relax and meditate.
Over the years, I developed a balanced life that includes lots of the things a human being needs to thrive in this world. At 3 years sober I met a therapist who said the human body is the most powerful pharmaceutical lab on the planet and that we can learn how to tap in to its drug cabinet. I never forgot that tidbit and have tried to make use of it.
Be careful about seeking and accepting medical advice from non-professional laypersons within A.A. You should consider going to your doctor and getting a professional medical opinion on your depression. Here is what A.A. has to say on this matter.
The A.A. Member – Medications and Other Drugs (This is A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature)
No A.A. member should “play doctor”; all medical advice and treatment should come from a qualified physician.
Some alcoholics require medication.
We recognize that alcoholics are not immune to other diseases. Some of us have had to cope with depressions that can be suicidal; schizophrenia that sometimes requires hospitalization; bipolar disorder, and other mental and biological illnesses. Also among us are diabetics, epileptics, members with heart trouble, cancer, allergies, hypertension, and many other serious physical conditions.
Because of the difficulties that many alcoholics have with drugs, some members have taken the position that no one in A A. should take any medication. While this position has undoubtedly prevented relapses for some, it has meant disaster for others.
A.A. members and many of their physicians have described situations in which depressed patients have been told by A.A.s to throw away the pills, only to have depression return with all its difficulties, sometimes resulting in suicide.
We have heard, too, from members with other conditions, including schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, epilepsy and others requiring medication, that well-meaning A.A. friends discourage them from taking any prescribed medication.
Unfortunately, by following a layperson’s advice, the sufferers find that their conditions can return with all their previous intensity. On top of that, they feel guilty because they are convinced that “A.A. is against pills.”
It becomes clear that just as it is wrong to enable or support any alcoholic to become re-addicted to any drug, it’s equally wrong to deprive any alcoholic of medication, which can alleviate or control other disabling physical and/or emotional problems.
Bravo. There are too many dangerous `Doctors without degrees `in AA. A friend committed suicide after being hounded by such people. He was severely mentally ill and required medication. I can`t imagine how the `Doctors`felt when their actions caused a beautiful human being to die.
A very good friend and mentor in AA did the same thing after about 18 or so years of sobriety (and 12 years on antidepressants) at the suggestion of his doctor. He lapsed into major depression, and ultimately needed to go back on his meds. A couple of years later he is doing great - and still taking his meds. He tells his story at meetings so others know that going back on meds is not a failure, rather it just means that AA is not a cure for clinical depression or other mental illnesses.
I became severely depressed when I gave up cigarettes after ten years of sobriety. I was extremely reluctant to try anti-depressant medication based on information from all the amateur pharmacists in AA. I had nothing to lose to I ignored them. Turned my life around completely. My doctor followed the normal course of treatment taking me off them periodically to see whether I needed them. I always did. Twenty three years later I still use anti-depressant medication and am happy with life and sobriety. A common misconception is that these meds are a drug that makes people feel good. For me they allow ne to feel. The way I feel tracks with what is going on in my life. Believe me when a pet dies they don't make me feel good. I feel sad just like other people but I don't jump off a bridge.
I have a number of long term AA friends that share my experience. A found a doctor knowledgeable about alcoholism. I think that's important in any case.
What would be a good topic to