Sunday, February 10, 2008

the only requirement for membership...

At a recent meeting, a new woman introduced herself as an addict. In fact, when I was introduced to her before the meeting (like "New Girl, meet Sober Girl - she's been around for a few 24 hours...") she told me that she's not actually an alcoholic - she smoked crack.

"Aah," I said. "Have you been to any NA meetings yet?"
"Well, a few," she answered. "But I like AA better."

I suggested that she keep trying NA meetings -in addition to OPEN AA meetings, just in case it turned out she might also have an alcohol problem- so that she could meet people with her same problem. She shrugged and said okay.

Up in the meeting, she suggested the topic: She felt like she was suddenly so angry, how could she keep from erupting at her mother and two small kids?

Because she introduced herself as an addict when she spoke and (probably) because she mentioned in her share that crack was her drug of choice, it was pretty clear to anyone paying attention that this girl considers herself not an alcoholic, but an addict.

Here's where it gets sticky:

As people around the table shared on her topic, they seemed to edit their comments to include the part where she's an addict. For example: Keith said, " for me, calling my sponsor, going to meetings and praying really helped me to stay sober. Or, I mean, clean."

Another person did the same thing, changing "drinking" to "using." And on and on it went. My companion and I are both sticklers for the singleness of purpose and so while neither of our shares were mean or sharp, we did both emphasize alcohol in our shares.

After the meeting I said, "You know what? I think we [meaning just about everyone at the meeting] just made it too comfortable for a non-alcoholic drug addict to be in a closed AA meeting." My companion agreed.

I truly believe that by allowing non-alcoholic addicts to settle into AA, we (of AA) are preventing them from getting well.

Ray O'Keefe told a story that illustrates why I feel this way: If you took 100 pounds of cocaine and dumped it on a table in the supermarket and walked away, in a day or two, you'd have 100 coke addicts; if you left out hundreds of bottles of booze and walked away, when you came back, you'd have just a few alcoholics.

In other words, not just anyone becomes an alcoholic - there has to be some set of SOMETHING in place for it to happen (be it nurture or nature or both). Anyone can become addicted to an addictive drug.

Therefore, a drug is NOT a drug is NOT a drug (my counter to the ever-popular "a drug is a drug is a drug.")

The addict needs to talk to someone who gets being an addict. The alcoholic needs to talk to someone who gets being an alcoholic. They are related, those two diseases, and yes, both are addictions, but they are still very different.

So I say to all the alcoholics out there: Let's please help our friends, the non-alcoholic addicts, and direct them gently and lovingly to NA meetings.

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1 comment:

Parker L. said...

In my town, the NA meetings are awful. Just a big hook up joint for people on probation. Many addicts say they come to AA meetings because there is never any discussion about a solution except for the rote recitation of the readings.