Wednesday, February 13, 2008

is "a drug-a-drug-a-drug"?

When people tell me, "a drug is a drug is a drug," they are almost always defending the notion that AA should be open to people whose "substance of choice" is a drug, not alcohol. You know that I think open meetings should most certainly be open to those who aren't yet sure, or who might have a problem with alcohol... that sort of thing. ("The ONLY requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.")

Last summer, I had a Big Book study group at my house. The participants were newer members of AA and lived at a local recovery house for women. They got upset about the singleness of purpose once, telling me such things as: "That's discrimination!" and "It's segregation!" and "If it helps drug addicts, they should be able to go, too!"

So I started to list some existing and made-up "-isms" and said, "Should those people feel free to attend closed AA meetings, too?" Do you think you can help the person with food issues? Sugar issues? Heroin issues? Sex addiction? Perhaps a grown man who feels that AA can help them not have sex with 6-year old girls? The person who is a work-a-holic... can you help that person?

At what point do you think we draw should the line? When you think about sharing (exchanging) experience, strength and hope, with whom do you think about sharing it? With people who will be able to relate? Whose own E, S & H you will be able to relate to?

When we broaden the membership of closed AA meetings, we water down not only the message, but also our ability to really help one-another.

Can I understand, in a way, the cravings of a crack addict? Sure I can. How does the crack addict feel about my cravings for alcohol? I've been told (by crack addicts) such stuff as, "You had it lucky - your substance is legal. You didn't have to feel ashamed about going to the liquor store to get it."

Well, those words are true, yet I did feel ashamed when buying booze. Ashamed, in fact, to the point of going to a different store each day. And not only ashamed about buying it, but of sitting on barstools being "cute" in order to get men to buy it for me when I was broke. And don't for a minute think those men were being kind-hearted and generous - there was most definitely a price for the booze they bought me and it included my body, my self-esteem and my self-respect.

I digress. I am not against helping people in need. If a friend told me that she was depressed, I wouldn't send her to an AA meeting, I'd recommend she see my therapist, maybe a psychiatrist for meds. If you told me that you couldn't stop coughing, I wouldn't tell you to go to an AA meeting, I'd suggest you see a doctor.

I can empathize with the depression and the cough, I've even experienced them. But my primary experience, strength and hope is not in those areas. It's in the area of alcoholism.



Parker L. said...

When I chair an open or closed meeting, I always say all are welcome if they desire to not get drunk or high that day. I follow it up with: "the reason I say that is you see, I am an alcoholic. If there was no alcohol in the world I would have been a drug addict. If there werent any alcohol or drugs in the world I would weigh 500 lbs from eating donuts 24/7/365. You see the problem isnt those "things", the problem is between my ears". It kinda lightens things up and I have never had the staunchest AA'er ever say anything to me afterwords.

Anonymous said...

even if alcohol is legal, it harms the body as crack does....

Terri said...

I'd like to say that even in open AA meetings, we need to respect singleness of purpose and when/if we speak at open meetings, we keep our comments to our disease of alcoholism. Open AA meetings are NOT forums for discussion of any and all other "drugs"! ONLY ALCOHOL. Thank you.