From the August 2010 magazine.

Hiding out

Going to meetings is only one part of recovery, a member writes

Some of the most wonderful people I have ever met are sober recovering alcoholics. But not everyone I've met in AA, even with years of sobriety, has something I want. This program is about taking all Twelve Steps, developing a relationship with a Higher Power as we understand that Higher Power, and then practicing those principles in all our affairs and giving it away. At six-and-a-half years sober, I have the gift of being able to work full time in chemical dependency treatment. I get to hear about how all kinds of people are given direction by all sorts of people in our program. It's wonderful to watch the lights come on and people embracing AA.

What I notice when patients are resistant to AA is that it is often because of certain messages that I also hear in AA--namely very little about working the Twelve Steps in your life. Instead, there is an insistence on going to meetings and more meetings and more meetings. Patients (newcomers) worry about losing themselves in AA; they tell stories of things I've also seen: people who live in AA meetings and whose life outside of AA is a disaster zone, even after years of recovery. Often it is the people in AA whose life outside of AA is very unsatisfying who are the most insistent that everyone else in AA needs to do more than they are doing for their sobriety. Often it is the sickest among us in AA who attempt to speak with the most authoritative message at the podium. This is unfortunate, especially for the newcomer.

-- BRAD K.

Los Gatos, Calif.

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