Abstinence & Letting Go of Old Idea’s
I was at a meeting and this topic came up. Someone shared that they are still drinking & not sober from alcohol. He takes various medications which require him to drink. He has a harm reduction program.
As other people shared after him, I thought Wow! This guy is lucky AA has evolved. In the not distant past, he would have been silenced. Someone would have interrupted him and said: “All who share must be 24 hours sober, meanwhile, please talk with someone 1 on 1, or come back and share when you are sober. Meeting formats included this statement. Imagine how meetings would be if people were continually allowed to share while still drinking/drunk? How would we sort out the 12 Step Solution VS others? AA meetings would sure be open for a much different experience if we were tolerant of such behavior.
I was concerned that this may send the wrong message to any newcomers. AA is a program of abstinence. This is clear. Our meetings, shares & 1 on 1’s must reflect this concept. If I had not stopped drinking, I would not have been able or willing to do all that has allowed me to recover from a “seemingly hopeless state of mind & body.” I’m not begrudging those who can’t stay sober (and keep trying), or use other methods for help. We just don’t share if we admit that we are not sober. AA cannot prostitute it’s values, particularly this one.
I tried to listen to people’s shares. This grated on my mind. Did I have to be the old-timer in age & sobriety who says something? Of course I did. I have a responsibility to say something. I would be tactful, non-combative, not cross talk directly.
My sponsor reminds me that I need to act like the “old-timer” that I am. When I was new, I looked up to the old-timers ahead of me. They were loving, supportive and repeatly told us via speaking how to stay sober. I must do the same. My experience is my toolbox.
As the meeting ended, “burning desires” were asked for. I shared that my old I idea I had to get rid of was that I could still drink! AA is a program of abstinence. We don’t drink here. I then went on a bit to relate my own experience around my own drinking. I’ve observed many people in AA over the years. The one’s that “aren’t” Alcoholics, don’t ever really seem to be at peace. At least the ones that go to meeting’s don’t seem to be. The one’s who think they are not Alcoholic, generally “catch” it after a while. For those that still want to drink, that’s fine, just don’t share in our meetings!
I had to change thoughts such as: I can’t control my drinking, there is no point. I tried repeatedly to not get “too drunk” so as to not annoy my friends. It never worked. It’s the first drink that gets me drunk, not the subsequent ones. The problems in my life were not external, not my: friends, parents, job, car, where I lived, or that no one understood me. I felt the classic “No one really cares about me. I’m always there for everyone else, but no one is there for me.” I was the chief cause of the problems in my life. Most of my problems were in my screwed up thinking & approach towards life. The hundreds of kind people in AA helped guide me, listen to me and taught me about how to live life without alcohol.