Article Hero Image
April 2002

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.

I spent a lot of time hanging out with people in the program. This is what I needed. We hung out until all hours of the night. I remember I never woke up before noon on a regular basis until I had few years sober. Today I like to wake up early.

When I was sober a few years, I got involved in a young people's committee called the Greater San Diego Young People's committee. Little did I know my life was about to change. The committee threw events for young people and also bid for our state conference ACYPAA every year. It was a blast! We would load up the car and travel to the Bay area just to attend meetings and conventions. We went to dances, parties, and other AA functions, dragging newcomers wherever we went.

When I was sober five years, I went off to college. That was difficult because I had to attend new meetings, and I discovered they did AA wrong. I graduated in two years and moved back to San Diego. I got involved in Young People's again, going to meetings and all the functions, and I found the greatest thing ever--sponsorship. I started working with a lot of newcomers. I always had heard that this was the point of the program, but hadn't realized it until then. I'd spent all my time thinking about myself and how much fun I could have.

I learned so much from working with others. I got a sense of ease and comfort that I used to get from alcohol. We took homeless drunks to dinner, then tried to talk them into going to detox. This worked for a few.

When I was sober eight years, I applied to grad school and was accepted. I then moved back to northern California and had to get involved in new meetings. That is where I am now. I just celebrated my ninth-year sobriety birthday and wanted to write this to share my experience, strength, and hope with those of you out there getting sober when you're young.

I have a great life today, all due to a loving and giving Higher Power. I have to remember that without him, I am nothing. He is the miracle, and I am not. I try to stay really humble. Today, I try to live a spiritual life and practice these principles in all of my affairs. I spend my time giving back what I have found in AA, sponsoring, speaking, giving rides, whatever I can do. Sometimes I get bored, and what a blessing being bored in sobriety is. This is when my head stops running and I feel calm and serene. I'm excited about my future; I know that if I stay close to God I will have a magnificent one.

Have Something You Want To Share?

We want to hear your story! Submit your story and it could be published in a future issue of AA Grapevine!

Submit your Story