From the April 2002 magazine.

Young, Sober, and Free

Growing up, I never felt as if I fit in. I drank to fit in, to escape and to just shut off the loud clatter that was going on in my head. I remember the warm feeling that came at once from that first drink. I identify with other AAs when they say that they felt bigger, stronger, and better looking after taking a drink. Growing up as an alcoholic teenager, I didn't have much. I didn't think alcohol would take away the little that I had left. My self-esteem, dignity, respect, and sense of self were thrown along the wayside for King Alcohol. When I finally arrived in AA, I was eighteen years old, barely passing high school, and had just beaten a manslaughter charge.

My first few months were hard. I remember being angry a lot and spending a lot of time in fear. (Hell, who am I fooling? If I weren't practicing these spiritual principles, I'd be living in fear right now.) They asked me if I was willing to go to any lengths and I said yes, if they could make the pain go away. I was so beat-up emotionally, I just wanted a way out. I would have killed myself but didn't have the guts. I worked my Steps and got involved, then took more commitments so I would stay involved. My first year was crazy. I beat the civil suit I was involved in as a result of the manslaughter, I got a job, and attended junior college.

-- Derreck L.

Sacramento, California

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