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May 1994

Forced Sobriety

I have been in the AA program for nearly nine months. Like many people I have met, I was one who came in of my own "free will." I was not forced by the courts to do penance, nor had I come in to get my family off my back. I had truly come in of my own "free will" and because of this fact I was certain that I was better than all of those who were "forced" into the AA program.

I held onto these feelings for the first three or four months until someone had the nerve to point out that no one ever comes into the AA program of their own free will. "All of us," he said, "were forced into the program in one way or another. Either by the courts, our families, or by life itself."

Still filled with self-righteous pride, I was offended by this statement. But not being able to come up with a good argument at the time, I let it go until I had more time to think up a good response. Unfortunately (or at least it seemed unfortunate at the time), I was not able to find an answer that even I could accept, let alone convince anyone else to believe. I was forced to take a good hard look at myself, and realize that if my life had been bearable in any way, I would not have found it necessary to seek help.

I remember all too well what had forced me into the program. For quite some time alcohol had been a part of my everyday life. It had been my friend. It had taught me how to get along with people. I was proud of myself because of my ability to drink all day and all night--the life of the party, a good old boy. When I had problems it was always there to help me through, and to ease the pain of loneliness and heartbreak. More problems? Simple answer, more booze. More loneliness, more heartache? More booze.

As time passed it became a cure for morning shakes, depression, and fears that seemed to come from nowhere. My life was going to hell and I was thankful that I still had my friend (booze) to help me through.

Finally came the day that even my old friend failed me. The world came crashing down around my shoulders that morning. I woke up totally defeated, lost, alone, and frightened. A six-pack did nothing to ease my pain. Suddenly I realized there wasn't enough booze in the world to save me that morning. I was through. Life was no longer an option. I would die by my own hand before the day was over. In some twisted way, that thought gave me a degree of comfort.

My Higher Power always seems to step in, however, even when I don't ask him to. I was found that day by a friend who led me by the hand like a child to a treatment center.

Facing the truth about myself, as well as my life, is only one of the many things I have learned in the AA program. In so doing I find that the truth isn't nearly as frightening as I thought it would be.

Forced sobriety? Yes, I was forced, and I thank God that I was.