From the December 2008 magazine.

You Have the Right to Remain Sober

The hard truth shows a newcomer in jail that recovery is serious business

In 1992, at the behest of my wife-to-be, I attended my first AA meeting. I walked into a smoky hall to find ten or so men seated around a table in the center of a room. I sat on the periphery, afraid to "intrude." Somehow, they knew I was a newcomer. When a gentleman won the Big Book in a raffle they held, he came over and handed it to me. His eyes were smiling when he said, "Welcome."

I was suspicious and yet comforted that there were people like me. I read a good part of the book that night, and decided that, armed with this knowledge about alcohol as an illness and perhaps regular attendance at that meeting, I would be able to do something about my drinking problem. At least this was what I told my fiancee and my parents. In my heart, however, I was pretty sure that now, when I drank, I could blame my disease. This was a relief, as I'd spent the early years of my drinking aware that I didn't drink like other people, and afraid that I couldn't stop, even when I wanted to. Now I had an excuse.

-- Bob B.

Portland, Maine

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