Friday, December 16, 2005

Sobriety and Recovery

What's the difference?

In my 2+ years in the rooms of AA, I've met and heard many alcoholics. I've heard the full range -- from those who go to a certain number of meetings each week/month, who work the Steps, have a sponsor who they stay in regular contact with and who have a Higher Power that they remain in conscious contact with. And I hear those who state that they rarely attend meetings, have yet to work the Steps after years involved in AA, may or may not have a sponsor and may or may not have had numerous relapses. Many have found every reason not to surrender to this illness. They often have many complaints but today they are sober. Happy, joyous and free are not part of their vocabulary.

What is sobriety? What is recovery?
I know this --- if I am going to be miserable, I am going to return to the bars and forget about stopping drinking.

comments please


Trudging said...

O.K. I could talk for an hour on this but; I will try to be brief. First, A.A. is like anything, you get what you put into it. Many folks do the “AA Three Step” for year after miserable year.

Second, right now there is a lot of other mental illness in rooms. Many of us, me included have a mental illness (mine is depression) along with our alcoholism. In addition, a friend of mine claims that about 30 years ago the mental health profession started referring a large number of folks to A. A. who might not really belong. These are folks who are really just mentally ill. Remember my friend Joan who prays for her gorges, healthy PhD candidate son to die because there is nothing worth living for?

Third, this is a depressing time of year. As the 12x12 says try not to set your “whole life straight” (I paraphrase loosely) during times like these.

Hang in there it does get better.

Ricky!!! said...

THat is a good post by Trudging. I think it can help me maintain an open, tolerant, and loving spirit no matter who I encounter. Thanks

Janet D said...

I agree with you dAAve - why bother if you aren't going to participate! It does become difficult to listen time after time to those who repeat "I don't know what to do" over and over and over. I take these experiences as reminders for myself that I really do know what to do these days and my life has only gotten better because of it - I certainly didn't get sober to be miserable. It keeps me centered on my sobriety/recovery and gives me compassion for others.

I agree with trudging to a certain extent about the mental illness thing, however, being a person with mental illness, I have found that because I follow my doctors' advice, take my medication as prescribed, have a therapist, and participate in AA (because I really am an alcoholic/addict, that God has graced me with a peace and serenity I haven't known in many, many years.

Regardless of all that, I'll keep praying for the other sick men and women out there.

Phil said...

Great post and great comments.

From what I've observed, it seems the biggest difference between those who are happy, joyous and free and those who are still pretty miserable is the steps. (Among those who've been around awhile, I mean, not newcomers like me.) The ones who have done the steps seem in far better frames of mind.

It's not automatic, though. In my step workshop was a guy clean and sober many years, doing the steps for the third or fourth time, talking about his "progress" because that day he only shoplifted one pack of woodscrews from Home Depot and paid for the other five.

The Big Book does not tell us how many meetings to go to or how often to call our sponsors. Years of experience has demonstrated these help keep us sober. But we are kidding ourselves if we expect the promises to become real in our lives if ALL we do is "suit up and show up."

The Big Book suggests we do the steps thoroughly and practice them in all our affairs. If we choose to substitute other things, rather than doing our best to follow these suggestions, the Big Book doesn't promise us anything.

OMG, I'm becoming a book nazi...

Trudging said...

Yes the Steps are key!

Mary Christine said...

Truly some are sicker than others. We all get well at different rates. Life in sobriety can sometimes be very difficult as we face ourselves, our lives, our mistakes, our choices, all without anesthesia. That is when we are doing the deal. Those who don't... well, I don't know. I have seen some of them come around for years, and voile! one day they seem to "come to". I have seen others be on fire with this program, tons of meetings, doing the steps, sponsoring people, etc., and they end up drunk. Who knows? I just thank God that I am sober today, put one foot in front of the other, trust God, clean house, try to give it away, and learn what I can learn from EVERYBODY.

AAwoken said...

I have heard that that very thought is a dangerous one. (I think Dr. Paul of pg 449 fame talks about it) One that many people have before going back out again.

That being said my personal opinion is....well....hmmmmmmmmmmm I need to think a little more.

AAwoken said...

K I have thought a little more. I know that one of things that appealed to me comes from "How it Works", "If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then...." Personally I see lots of "those" people in the rooms as well. They generally do not have what I want, which is the peace and serenity that I saw in people who do not question the program and just listened and did what was asked of them. Get a sponsor, go to meetings and work the steps. Fundamentally this is a simple program about just dropping the bullshit and finally, for once in our lives being honest with ourselves. In a word SURRENDER. I do not understand what is so difficult about surrendering that some people fight it so. It means giving up and joining the winning side. I do know what I want and am willing to go to any length to get it. Peace, Serenity, and being the person I alway knew I could be.

(I went a little long here and apologize. Perhaps I should do a post on this. I am tired and need to think about this more, a lot more.)

Daily Piglet said...

Wow what awesome responses. I often mention that going to meetings isn't just about quitting drinking, it's about changing the behavior. Getting to the EXACT nature of the WRONG. I totally self medicated for as long as I could. At about 3 years I found myself in a very bad place mentally b/c I was afraid that AA wasn't working even though I was working the steps, had a sponsor, going to meetings, etc.

What I found out is that I need that "outside" help that they talk about. I was ashamed to receive it. (Almost as ashamed when I walked into our rooms asking for help.)

Asking for help is what has saved my life over and over again.

Like Trudge, AA is like everything else in a society of people gathered together. The steps are truly my design for living. The Big Book is that book I had been waiting for my entire life that had all the answers. Took me awhile to comprehend that.

One of my favorite lines is on page 83 of BB, "The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it." And then I heard a speaker, Bob Earle (sp?) mention that it states in our BB on page 45 that the big book's main objective is to enable us to find a Power greater than ourselves.
(I'd been looking for that already in drugs, alcohol, people, food ,etc.)

I can't stay sober if I don't change my behavior. Which means, I have to work the steps. More than once.
It is a Daily reprieve indeed.

Kenny said...

i'm guilty..... you talking about me?

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